May 2005 Archives

I don't have a lot of time today, so I'm just putting forth a few searches and a few links.

kal-el brother of kal-el
I've gotten a search like this 2-3 times now. Does anyone have any idea what it's supposed to be finding?

good arguments for wolves
arguing what about wolves?

penal piercing
Some kinds of piercing are bad enough that I suppose they might serve as fitting punishments for particularly grievous crimes, but I'm not sure why someone would search for something like that with this expression. There might be better combinations of words for finding that. This search is just going to find something else and only the people writing about it who don't know how to spell.

Check of the Diet of {book} Worms, a site for reviews of Christian books, run by Tim Challies.

Philosophers' Carnival XIV is at Mumblings and Grumblings. It has one of my OrangePhilosophy posts, so I'm working on a roundup of it, which should appear by the end of the week.

Joseph Malozzi, writer and executive producer on both Stargate series, has a blog. There's not much there yet, but it could prove interesting.

More Pierce Pictures: Ethan asleep on the laundry piles in the crib and asleep on his dresser again

I just realized a very interesting consequence of two theses that I'm sure many people hold. The first thesis is the Reformed version of infant baptism. I don't think the Catholic version has this result. Protestant paedobaptists believe that baptism does not save, nor remove original sin. It does indicate parents' trust that their child, being in the covenant community, will eventually develop personal faith and serve Christ as Lord. In other words, the content is pretty much what other parents express when they dedicate their children in hope of baptism when they express faith at an old enough age to be recognized as genuine. The biggest difference is that paedobaptists use the term 'baptism' and treat their children as part of the covenant itself rather than simply as benefiting from being part of the more general covenant community. As a credobaptist I disagree with this view, but it's quite common among the Reformed.

The second thesis is the main idea behind retroactive prayer. I've already argued for the possibility of legitimately retroactive prayer, so I won't do all that again. I'll simply say that if you accept that God has perfect knowledge of what's future to us (whether because he's outside time or some other reason), there's no reason for us not to pray about things that have already happened when we don't know the outcome. If God can foresee my prayer beforehand, then there's nothing to stop God from answering what I will later pray. The key idea here is foreknowledge, which all Reformed accept.

Now if you put these two things together, you get a very surprising result. The same things that justify these two views, when combined, will open up the possibility of baptism for the dead.

Technogypsy hosts the 71st
A Ticking Time Blog gives one more piece of evidence that
it's Brave New World that got the future right, not 1984.

Northern 'burbs blog gives some striking facts about the depths of American biblical illiteracy.

All kinds of time... shares some of my own worries about the language of rights as communicating something of our deserving of people to treat us well. As my comment expresses more fully, I think there are different senses of rights, and the broadest just involves whether someone or something is morally relevant at all. Still, I worry about those who treat rights as being about what someone is entitled to, as if we should expect people to do certain things for us.

Brandywine Books distinguishes between ambition of the hubristic sort and ambition in seeking excellence in what does.

A Physicist's Perspective will be hosting the 72nd Christian Carnival this week. The Christian Carnival is a weekly collection of some of the best posts of the Christian blogosphere. It's open to Christians of Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic convictions. One of the goals of this carnival is to offer our readers to a broad range of Christian thought. This is a great way to make your writing more well known and perhaps pick up some regular readers.

To enter is simple. First, your post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are about home life, politics, or current events from a Christian point of view. Second, please submit only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival (i.e. from last Wednesday through this coming Tuesday).

Then do the following:

Christian Carnival #70 (now from two weeks ago) at A Penitent Blogger. 70 scholars locked away in their monastic quarters arrived at the same final product independently of each other, and Penitens has posted it for us to see. My contribution is Chronology in I Samuel 16:1-18:5.

Pierce Pictures

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Sam has started a new blog for pictures, so she won't feel as if she's interrupting content on her main blog for these. It's called Pierce Pictures for now. It was a descriptive enough name that it would work for a URL even if we think up a better name eventually.

Some more ways to find my blog:

"jan cover" philosopher hair
Well, last I knew his hair was pretty long, but what was this search supposed to be trying to find?

support group against home school children
First of all, isn't a support group a group to support some group of people, not a group against a group of people? Second, why would anyone possibly form a group against a group of children, even if you don't like what people are doing to those children?

paul pierce sportron
Heh. It seems my shameless plugs for my dad's business have pulled in a hit from someone trying to find him. Of course, if they weren't willing to find where on my page the links they were looking for are then it wasn't worth it. It's kind of funny that the 'paul' comes from John Paul II, the 'pierce' comes from my name, not his, and the 'sportron' comes from the link that this person was looking for. They wouldn't have found me if they knew how to search within quotes. I can see that my links have done their job, though, because his pages are at the top for this search. Search engines really like blog links. It makes me wonder why this person clicked on my blog rather than the other sites, though. Weird.

Jesus' Reasoning

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Joe Carter hosted a project I call Jesus' Reasoning a little while ago, and I never managed to put together a post with links to all the entries I contributed. Here is that post. Joe explains the project here, and the entries are all here.

In Jesus the Logician? I express why I don't like Joe's name and insist on calling it Jesus' Reasoning. Since Joe organizes the posts by passage, I'll put them in the order I wrote them:

1. John 9:1-3
2. Mark 7:1-23
3. Matthew 10:40-42
4. Luke 21:1-4
5. Mark 11:27-33; Matt 21:23-27; Luke 20:1-8
6. Matthew 21:28-32
7. Mark 12:18-27; Matt 22:23-34; Luke 20:27-40 tackles the claim popularized by Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Howard Dean that abortion rates have gone up under Bush. Nationally speaking, that claim is simply false, though in a few states the rate has increased. [hat tip: Susan Olasky at World, though I'm not sure her claim that these people were lying is justified]

They've also tackled some false and misleading claims from both sides on the judicial nominees who have garnered much attention of late. They end with something that I think is wrong. Alberto Gonzales once said that one opinion Priscilla Owen wrote would have been an unconscionable act of judicial activism if her opinion had been the majority opinion. He has now said that he's never accused her of being an activist judge. They raise the specter of contradiction here without quite endorsing it. I just think that's poor journalism. There's an easy way to reconcile these two statements. In the first case he was talking about an action, and in the second he was talking about a character trait. He never accused her of having the character trait of judicial activism, though he did think one opinion she wrote would have been an instance of judicial activism (if it had been a majority opinion). I don't think one instance of judicial activist makes someone an activist judge. One must have a track record of judicially activist decisions to be an activist judge.

This is part ten of an ongoing series on affirmative action that I've been continuing sporadically. The first post is here. It introduces the series and provides links to each post in the series. This is my final post on the arguments in favor of affirmative action, and I've saved the one I think is best for last. One common objection to affirmative action is that it's in principle ruled out by the 14th Amendment. The Supreme Court hasn't been willing as a body to go along with this, but three justices (Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas) do seem to me to think it's a good argument. If it's unconstitutional to discriminate on the basis of race, then why is it ok to discriminate in admissions on the basis of race?

I don't ultimately think that's a good argument, for one reason. Race can be used as the basis of discrimination when race is relevant. If a government-funded performing arts company decided to stage a perfomance about Malcolm X, they are well within their rights to discriminate against white or Asian actors for the part of the lead character. They'll want someone black. If they were doing a perfomance about President Bush, they won't select a black lead unless they want to do some weird sort of parody. [People sometimes do this. Othello has been done with the races of characters all reversed.] Most of the time it's perfectly ok to see being black or being white as a qualification to play a character who is specified as black or white. It's technically discrimination, but it's not legally discrimination, because race properly counts as a qualification for the position in question. Some have argued that affirmative action can be justified on similar grounds. If race counts as a qualification, then affirmative action is merely treating qualifications as what they are. Not using affirmative action would then be ignoring real qualifications.

I'm a Family

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We went to a wedding on Saturday, and I heard a very strange use of the word 'family'. As the man officiating at the wedding welcomed everyone, he referred to the guests in the customary way as friends and family. Then he began to address each person as a friend or a family. He continued on for a few minutes, referring to individual people by talking as if each person was either a friend or a family. Has anyone ever heard this sort of thing?

It sort of parallels how some people in the military use the word 'troop'. People at Language Log don't like it, but my friend who was in the Air Force says they referred to one airman as a troop all the time, from basic training all the way to the top of the ranks. It's apparently a pretty standard usage in the military. I can sort of hear talking of one troop as one person, though. One person as a family just doesn't sound like English.

Sleeping Kids

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Sam's posted some pictures of the kids sleeping last night. Ethan had decided to use the rug in his room as a blanket. Isaiah often ends up in his closet on a sleeping bag. He's there right now. One night I found him on a chair in his room that doesn't have enough room for a kid his size to lie down on, so he was all crouched up in a ball. Last night he went to a common favorite of his, fully under the bed so that we'd have to move the bed aside a great deal if we wanted to put him on top of it. I'm not sure why he detests sleeping in his bed so much. He usually brings a pillow with him under the bed. I'm not sure what possessed him to sleep with his head directly on the floor. Ethan at least usually ends up on his bed, but he insists on taking until he's well past tired before doing so. I put him to bed at 7:00 before I went out tonight. He's still up with his light on, and he turned it on within a minute of my turning it off after I came home maybe 10 minutes ago.

Update: more from the next night

The 138th Carnival of the Vanities is at Cynical Nation. My Interracial Couples in Popular Media is among the entries. Other posts of note:

I haven't had a chance to write anything today, so I'll post a comment I've been hanging on to that I thought was insightful. This is from Tad Brennan, left on a Left2Right post. The direct link to the comment is here.

There are many senses in which this is a Christian nation--a majority of its citizens are Christian, most of its founders were Christian, it enjoys a cultural heritage that derives from Christian cultural traditions, etc. Is there any of these senses in which it would not be equally true to say that this is a white nation? Would anyone think it was politically innocuous for the leadership of one party to be vehemently declaring that it is a White Nation?

Semicolon hosts the 69th Christian Carnival (yes, I'm well over a week behind). My contribution is ID is Science, Sort Of.

If you're interested in seeing a healthy theonomistic view that attempts to be grounded in biblical principles about government and about the difference between old covenant and new, you should check out By What Authority and By What Standard? at Wittenberg Gate. I'm not a theonomist, but I don't think Dory's version of theonomy (she doesn't call it that in this post, but she uses the term, with some cautionary notes, in the ensuing discussion here) is much like the sort of thing some people call by that name. This view is a kind of theonomy, though, and I think it's good to be aware that there's a much healthier version of it than what in compasrion seems like a caricature that some people manage to believe anyway.

Mr. Standfast connects being the salt of the earth with the beatitudes in an interesting way, looking at how the beatitudes reflect God's heart that he has made us to have, resulting in a call to live in a way reflecting what we are.

Attention Span has a great post about Rick Warren and the Purpose-Driven Phenomenon. It avoids extremism on both sides, something almost no one seems willing to try to do. What I really appreciate is the recognition of what Warren is doing right, what he's emphasizing that evangelicalism really needs to hear that enough people aren't hearing otherwise, and what he truly fails at in incredibly unfortunate ways. He also shows how you can take what he says for what it is and no more and thereby find it useful for what's good in it without sacrificing the things Warren can sacrifice at times.

A Physicist's Perspective reviews John MacArthur's The Gospel According to Jesus, the book that popularized the term 'Lordship Salvation', which is basically the view that becoming a Christian involves a commitment to Christ and not mere intellectual assent or emotional experience.

All Kinds of Time starts from some observations about the population shift to urban centers and then gives some thoughts on how Christians should respond, most especially by opposing the evangelical trend and moving to cities.

Cerulean Sanctum presents a new name for an old bad habit among Christians -- the Faith Bomber.

Technogypsy will be hosting the 71st Christian Carnival this week. The Christian Carnival is a weekly collection of some of the best posts of the Christian blogosphere. It's open to Christians of Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic convictions. One of the goals of this carnival is to offer our readers to a broad range of Christian thought. This is a great way to make your writing more well known and perhaps pick up some regular readers.

To enter is simple. First, your post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are about home life, politics, or current events from a Christian point of view. Second, please submit only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival (i.e. from last Wednesday through this coming Tuesday).

Then do the following:

Filibuster Battle

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You may have noticed that I haven't been talking about the filibuster issue in the Senate very much, and not at all recently. That's not mainly because I have no view on whether the filibuster should be used as the Democrats have been using it, or because I have no view on whether the filibuster should be gotten rid of. I think the answer is no to both issues. It's also got nothing to do with the judges whose records I've had some exposure to, all of whom seem to me to be stellar nominees. The only thing the Democrats have against them is that they're pretty standardly conservative, which is no reason to oppose a judge. Ideological differences within the mainstream of American thought do not count as a reason not to confirm someone, not matter how many times you protest vehemently that the person is out of the mainstream.

Of course to a Democrat a conservative will seem out of the mainstream, but these are the same people who were completely shocked that George W. Bush increased his support in 2004 almost across the board. It's one thing to be digusted that people would support him. It's quite another not to know that half the country supports him. The mainstream of political discourse includes people who favor views like those of Pricilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, and Charles Pickering, for good or ill. The claims of Schumer and company that these judges are way out of the mainstream are simply false. They're way out of the mainstream of a largely Clinton-appointed judiciary, but most of those people are out of the mainstream of what a largely-Bush-appointed judiciary might look like in four years. That kind of being out of the mainstream counts for little. The current mainsteam in the judiciary is itself out of the mainstream, as the backlash against the judiciary over gay marriage in the 2004 election demonstrated.

What makes me not want to pay attention to this has nothing to do with those issues. It's simply because the people involved all seem to have short memories of their own actions ten years ago. Democrats like to pretend that the Republicans are the ones being inconsistent with their past statements but that Democrats are fine. Republicans say the same thing but reverse the roles. Ed Brayton of In the Agora gives some actual quotes. I do think the Republicans have something to say in that the use of the filibuster has gotten way out of hand, and I do think the Democrats have something to say in that the filibuster is a long-standing tradition that ought to be tampered with only with great caution (of course that long-standing tradition was that the filibuster be used only for the most controversial legislation, i.e. something once every decade or so). As the above-linked post notes, it's not that the charges made by both sides are false. It's that they're both true. They've each shown that the other side has been acting dishonestly and in a way inconsistent with just governance. What they're saying negatively is largely true (though often overstated), and what they're saying positively is pretty much false on both counts.

I can't resist commenting on two lines people keep talking about in Episode III. If you want absolutely no spoilers, don't read this, but this spoils so little that most of you won't care. People have been complaining or rejoicing (depending on their view on the issue) at what they perceive to be Lucas' use of this film as a jab at Bush in the war on terrorism. I haven't seen it yet, but I did hear Lucas' response to these claims, and I know enough about the film and about the issues in question to say something, pending my viewing of the film of course for a final judgment. I'll keep the rest of this in the extended entry for those who are absolutists about spoilers, but this really won't spoil much of anything.


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I got my final grades submitted with 40 minutes to spare and nearly three hours of sleep. Now all I have to do until Monday is prepare my syllabus, put up a link in the online section of my course to an online reading once the library puts the reading up, and make a handout on accessing online materials. Compared to the stacks of grading I've had sitting on my desk for about two weeks, that seems like nothing, even though it might take a couple hours.

Interesting searches have been fairly thin since last Tuesday, but I guess it works out because I've had very little time to comb the blogosophere for interesting stuff to go along with the interesting searches. Here's what I did notice:

yoda pornography
Fortunately for this person, Sitemeter only gave me three of the four numbers of the IP address, but I can say that it was someone in Australia.

Meaning of belching??
I didn't know it generally expressed any content. The double question mark is a nice touch. I'm not sure how it was supposed to help the search engine find the right answer, though.

why are black people so unintelligent
It may be related to why people who search Google for "why are black people so unintelligent" are so unintelligent.

I'm in the thick of grading, but I'll leave you with some content today (and I expect to have a roundup later on today that I've been adding posts to for over a week and haven't posted because I wanted to wait until I had three unusual searches, which I now have).

Here's a quote from the section by Mark Ashton with C.J. Davis, "Following in Cranmer's Footsteps", in Worship by the Book, ed. D.A. Carson, 2002:

Evangelism is part of building up the Body. In fact, there is no sharp distinction to be drawn between edification and evangelism in church services. The same Bible truths that strengthen the faith of the Christian challenge the lack of faith of the non-Christian.... What we do will not necessarily be familiar to them: how common an activity is community singing these days? But it should be apparent to a guest that we are in earnest. There should be no doubt that we take the Word of God seriously and that we we want them to take it seriously as well.

Well, I met my first major grading deadline yesterday and my minor one today (for graduating seniors) with little difficulty. Usually I cut it much closer than I have been this semester. I finished the stuff for yesterday before 10pm the night before the deadline, which gave me the whole day to get the archaic grade sheet in to where it needed to be. I finished my Le Moyne seniors today with almost two hours to spare, and since Le Moyne is technologically up to date I didn't even have to leave my office.

I'm now about 40% of the way through my exams and papers (by number of people, and since they have roughly the same amount of work that's fair), and the final deadline for the rest is a little over 49 hours away. My grading to other things ratio will need to be a little higher than it's been if I want to make it to the one event on my schedule between now and then, but I'm now at the point where I'm moving much more quickly after grading an entire class of exams and papers that were virtually the same assignments that the class still to be graded did.

In response to an argument that agnostics are intellectually dishonest, Clark Goble at Mormon Metaphysics suggests that perhaps the difference depends on how one conducts the inquiry, and the atheist who insists that it can only be rational if it's in the way that leads to atheism is perhaps wrong in assuming that an honest inquiry must go exactly that way. I think the same can be said for how theists might think about atheists and agnostics who claim that the evidence leads to disbelief in God, and I'm sure Clark would agree.

Blake makes an interesting observation in the comments that what counts as publicly verifiable (or, I would assume, falsifiable) based on evidence seems to vary from person to person because people have different accounts of what is good (and thus of what a good God would allow). Is it verifiable that some state of affairs is better than another or that a certain conception of omnibenevolence is the right one? It assumes we can verify an account of the good. We can't treat such things as if they're of the sort that evidence speaks well to, at least in a publicly verifiable way. (The guy he's responding to nicely illustrates this, in fact, in his subsequent comments, by his assumptions of what counts as good or best.)

Dory of Wittenberg Gate has started a new blog Evangelical Diablog. Check it out to see a place for evangelicals to discuss matters in real dialogue rather than unfair mischaracterizations and an unwillingness to listen. One of her posts asks people to discuss how their eschatological views (i.e. views regarding the end times) affect how they live their life. I responded that it shouldn't. At least what we commonly think of eschatological views shouldn't affect how we live. Sometimes those views do affect how people live, but they shouldn't. There is a central Christian eschatology to all the views, and that should affect Christian life, but those things can be common to all the disputed views. This post expands on my comment.

This is part one of what I'm expecting to be a four-part review of Mary Kassian's The Feminist Mistake. An earlier version of this book was published in 1992 under the title The Feminist Gospel. Since I've never seen the original, I have no sense of how much was changed for this new edition. My review will treat the book as it stands in the current edition and will assume no knowledge of the original edition. Kassian divides the book into two larger topics: The Philosophical Quake and The Shockwaves. Part one is sub-divided into three sections: Naming Self, Naming the World, and Naming God, and then part two follows. Most of the book is dedicated simply to tracing out the development of feminist thought, mostly throughout the latter half of the 20th century or so. Kassian handles feminism in society in general and in religion, particularly in Christianity. Part one traces the major strands of feminist thought that amount to women's naming of themselves as a way of liberating themselves from being named by others. As such, it's at once brief and thorough in working through a number of elements of feminist thought along the lines she defines as Naming Self.

A Penitent Blogger will be hosting the 70th Christian Carnival this week. The Christian Carnival is a weekly collection of some of the best posts of the Christian blogosphere. It's open to Christians of Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic convictions. One of the goals of this carnival is to offer our readers to a broad range of Christian thought. This is a great way to make your writing more well known and perhaps pick up some regular readers.

To enter is simple. First, your post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are about home life, politics, or current events from a Christian point of view. Second, please submit only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival (i.e. from last Wednesday through this coming Tuesday).

Then do the following:


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You Are 31 Years Old

Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

No, I did not gerrymander this to get the results to come out right, but yes I did deliberately wait almost a day so it would be correct.

Douglas Bass, formerly of Belief Seeking Understanding, has a new blog, Apprehension (which I still need to add to my blogroll). A recent post invites my response. He refers to a thesis that can be abbreviated "we feel the way we think", which simply means "the thoughts that people dwell on, meditate on, rehearse, cherish and fondle the most, are the thoughts that are expressed in feelings and behavior."

He refers to the last time I took up a post of his, and I don't want him to think this will be like that. I've spent much time contemplating God's relation to time and how that affects prayer, and I'm willing to class myself a specialist in philosophy of time. I've even got a publication to show for it, even if it's just a book review (though one that makes several substantive points I've never seen anyone make in print before). I will try to say something in response, though, but much of this is just one person's reflections rather than the view of a scholar, as the last one was.

I'll just say right now that this is going to be a very weird post, moving from my own thoughts about my own mental and emotional integration (or lack thereof) to complete speculation about theological matters. It's thus a fitting post for the landmarkish number of #1150, since I like my round-numbered posts to be unusual and momentous things or so mundane that they stand out. You can decide which this is. It's not the usual sort of thing I do, anyway.

Not Trusting God

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Marla Swoffer shares her thoughts on what's sometimes called quiverfull thinking, i.e. that we should seek to have as big a family as possible. The discussion that follows raises a lot of good questions both against those who reject the idea of a big family and against those who insist that seeking to have some influence on the size of your family is wrong. What's really funny to me is that seeking to have as big a family as possible by not using birth control is seeking to have some influence on the size of your family. In our day when we can place some limits on the spacing of children, not using such methods is de factor deliberately influencing the size of your family to make it as large as possible. I'm not saying that's wrong. I'm saying it's deliberate.

The thing that really gets me about the main arguments for the view that we should maximize our family size is that it takes just a few examples of other arguments that take the same form to see why they're not good arguments. I've come up with ten arguments of that form (from my comment on Marla's post). Some are common arguments that many people hold, and some are so utterly ridiculous that no one would buy them. Someone who thinks some of these arguments might be good will need to explain why those arguments are good and not the ones that are utterly awful (and why they don't cut both ways, as some of the ones below do), and they need to do it without appealing to the notions that are present in all these arguments.

As has been the case a lot recently, I'm way behind with my carnival roundups, but here we go with last week's Christian Carnival, which is #68 and is hosted at Kentucky Packrat. My Ratzinger on Ecumenism With Protestants is among the entries. Christian Carnival LXIX is at Semicolon for those looking for the current one. That roundup will have to wait until I get through Best of Me Symphony LXXVI (the Monty Python edition), which I also have a post in, and Carnival of the Vanities CXXXVIII at Cynical Nation will also be in need of my attention, since I have a post there too, but that's last in the list because it appeared last.

In going through last week's Christian Carnival (yes, I'm still working on that), I found Blake Kennedy's fascinating discussion of whether the Plymouth Brethren fit better within fundamentalism and evangelicalism. He wants to say the latter. I think his argument might lead to thinking of them as a borderline case, recognizing that the term 'fundamentalist' is somewhat loose and can include people who aren't at all like the paradigm cases. It's also possible that someone or some group might be a member of both categories.

What interested me most was his careful delineation of what's commonly associated with fundamentalism by those who want to distance themselves from that label by calling themselves evangelical. There is some overlap in some of these, but I think it's worth being explicit about some elements that are aspects of other, more general, traits. Many of these also admit of degrees, and thus someone or some group might be more fundamentalistic or less fundamentalistic than some other person or group. Fred Phelps and the GodHatesFags crowd will probably be among the most fundamentalistic, and I would say someone like Zane Hodges (most known for being KJV-only, hyper-dispensationalist, and antinomian) is more moderate in comparison with Phelps but still solidly a fundamentalist. John MacArthur is still a fundamentalist too, I would say, but he's much less so and is also an evangelical, albeit a more conservative one than most on these issues. I'm not sure someone who is KJV-only would be evangelical except if the person is really moderate with all the other features of fundamentalism (and there are such people).

Baldilocks gives an interesting theory for why many Christian congregations are overwhelmingly female in composition. [Hat tip: Sam] She thinks it has much to do with how much time and attention is devoted to what's often called the worship time and how much is devoted to the sermon. She says a too high percentage of women might be a sign that "the pastor has likely has [sic] too much 'praise and worship' in his service and not enough teaching of the word and some of its less 'uplifting' aspects. There might be something to this.

David Velleman has a nice, balanced post up about ID and schools. I don't quite agree with everything, but he's close to being right on everything. My first comment makes my views clear enough, as if my post here didn't already do so. There is a little more in that comment than I said in the post, though, and this is more succinct, so I'm reproducing that comment here for posterity along with a second comment clarifying some elements of evolutionary theory that are philosophical arguments:

Here's a review of Revenge of the Sith that gives me A New Hope that long-time Star Wars fans will accept this one. [Hat tip: Volokh Conspirator Todd Zywicki] This review is by someone who was pretty disappointed in Episodes 1 and 2 but thought Lucas redeemed himself with this one. A lot of people say they liked the originals but didn't like Episodes 1 and 2. If you're in that category, then you might still like Episode 3, according to this review.

Of course, I've never understood the insistence that the prequels are much worse than the originals. When I saw Episode 1, I didn't expect something like what I as a kid had thought Star Wars was. I knew Star Wars wasn't really what I as a kid had thought it was. I was simply looking for a good ride in the first movie, which led to my enjoying it. I ignored the awful Amidala-Anakin scenes in Episode 2, which meant I could really enjoy all of the fun stuff in that one, and there was a lot of it. The original trilogy wasn't any better in terms of scriptwriting or directing, at least in the details (except Empire, which was written and directed by people much better than Lucas, so it was good even in the details). It was just incredible fun based on what Lucas does do well -- come up with a great overall story and secure great people for special effects. People who like the originals but not the prequels simply don't realize that the prequels are pretty much the same sort of thing and can't get over the child's appreciation of the originals that they just won't apply in the same way to the prequels.

A thorny problem in the interpretation of the book of Samuel is the chronology of chapters 16ff. As most commentators look at this section of the book, Saul gets rejected as king in ch.15 (as he had in ch.13), Samuel arrives in Bethlehem to anoint David in the first half of ch.16, David gets called to Saul's side to play soothing music to calm him, a David unknown to Saul shows up to fight Goliath in ch.17, and then Saul rewards David at the end of the chapter. Then early in ch.18, Saul keeps David in his court, which he'd already done at the end of ch.16.

Some people try to avoid the problem simply by saying there are multiple accounts that conflict with each other that were all spliced together by some complete idiot who didn't know how to compile a book to save his life. The problem with such a view is that the author of Samuel is extremely careful, with an overwhelming number of subtle hints here and there and with a fairly consistent unity of style. The sections of the narrative are constructed in clear patterns throughout, with thematic progression and careful literary skill on a much more global level than just with the details within each chunk. There may have been multiple sources for the book, but the author made them his own. He wouldn't have left things so ridiculously conflicting, all within a few chapters, that the common picture you get from modern scholars would result, with this haphazard arrangement of contradictory reports that some editor just threw together because he didn't know what to do with them otherwise. So what's going on in this section of the book?

New ways to find my blog:

topol of star trek
I've gotten so many of these now due to a commenter's misspelling of T'Pol's name that it's getting ridiculous, and I have to appease my conscience by trying to suck that traffic into a post making it clear that her name is T'Pol. You're going to find much better information on T'Pol if you spell her name correctly. Just to be clear: T'pol. It's not as if this spelling mechanism isn't a standard Vulcan convention, going all the way back to T'Pau in the original series (who showed up this season and met T'pol. Sorry. I needed to get one more correct spelling in there).

africans deleted from the bible
I suppose whoever did this deleting didn't do a good a job of it. There are plenty of Africans actually in the Bible.

self-refuting statements all statements are true
That's not self-refuting. It's just false.

New things to find elsewhere:

What do John Paul II and Campus Crusade for Christ have in common? If you don't know the answer to that, you might be interested in reading about the very evangelical-like revival in Poland in the 1970s in the latest Christianity Today. [Hat tip: McRyanMac] As an undergraduate, I questioned the Crusade stance on Catholicism when I first encountered it, thinking they were smoothing over some truly important theological distinctives, but over the years I've gradually come to agree with them, though that agreement has come in stages. See my posts here, here, here, and here for some of my justification for this (no pun intended). I'm still working on a post dealing with issues besides justification, which I made some progress on yesterday after not touching for a week or two. I keep saying I'll be getting to it, and I have been working on it.

While I'm on the subject, one more little tidbit on the relation between Cardinal Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI) and the Joint Declaration with the Lutherans has been brought to my attention.


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People are saying some strange things about the discovery of an early Revelation manuscript that has 616 as the" number of man" or "number of a man" in Rev 13:18, strange enough to make me look around at the NT blogs for more info on the find, and they've confirmed my suspicions. Here are the facts: We've known for a long time that some manuscripts of Revelation have 616 instead of 666. There are multiple explanations of why this would have come about, more than one of them fairly plausible, but I'm not going to bother with that now, mostly because I'm on campus and don't have my Revelation commentaries with me. Suffice it to say that this is a late development in the manuscript tradition, and there's no reason to think 616 was original.

All that's new is that this find is a manuscript that's older than the other ones we know of that have 616. It's a good deal older than the ones we knew about, but it's not at all the oldest manuscript we know of for the book, and there's no reason to think as a result of this that it's the most likely reading. The number 666 is overwhelmingly represented in multiple text traditions, in the earliest manuscripts, and just plain overall as the dominant reading. See Ralph the Sacred River for a nice summary of the important points. [Hat tip: NT Gateway Weblog] Some of the reports going around on this are treating it as if the 666 texts have been disproved. Hardly. This isn't that significant a discovery for the study of copyist errors in text criticism, for which it's a very interesting find. It hasn't affected what scholars think the original manuscript said.

Semicolon will be hosting the 69th Christian Carnival this week. The Christian Carnival is a weekly collection of some of the best posts of the Christian blogosphere. It's open to Christians of Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic convictions. One of the goals of this carnival is to offer our readers to a broad range of Christian thought. This is a great way to make your writing more well known and perhaps pick up some regular readers.

To enter is simple. First, your post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are about home life, politics, or current events from a Christian point of view. Second, please submit only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival (i.e. from last Wednesday through this coming Tuesday).

Then do the following:

The 67th Christian Carnival is at Wittenberg Gate. I put in my usual appearance with Preserving Form and Meaning in the TNIV. [Again, I'm well over a week behind, but I've been finishing up the last week of classes, it's grading season, and I've become a full-time dad for the past 40 hours or so. Now that I'm through this I can begin this week's.]

Gay Men and MBTI

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I generally save my weird searches for roundups, but this one raised a pretty fascinating question that I thought I could spend a little time saying something about:

myers-briggs t or f the truth infp men are gay

As an absolute statement, the answer should obviously be false, but someone whose websearching skills are this bad might not even understand the distinction between absolute statements and generalizations. I know a few INFP men, and one of them has admitted to having struggled with his sexual identity in college but has strong heterosexual tendencies and is happily married to an ENTJ woman. The others I know don't even have any sense of gay tendencies.

As a generalization, we'd need to do an empirical study, but I'd say the odds are against it. The percentage of the U.S. adult male population that's gay is something like 3%. The percentage of the population that's INFP is something like 1%. It's consistent with those numbers that INFP men tend to be gay, but it must be a very large percentage of the gay population, and that doesn't seem likely to me. For one, many gay people are extroverts, and many gay people are not P but J. Just look at some of the celebrities who are openly gay. Queer Eye capitalizes on J gay people, and the outward-focused nature of quite a number of gay celebrities makes it likely that a good number of them are E. What's more likely to correlate, thouh certainly not necessarily, is being F. What's likely to lead to a gay identification is a trait more commonly thought to be feminine, and F is that. I don't have any sense of N or S, but it's not likely to me that it could be much more than a very general favoring.

So the answer is probably just no. There might be more INFP gay men than some other MBTI types, but I doubt INFP is even the dominant personality type for gay men, if there is one. I don't think it's even the stereotypical type. That's more likely to be ENFJ.

Prosthesis has put into words what I've been trying unsuccessfully to say for quite a while now. Intelligent Design is technically philosophy and not science, but it's no as simple as that. It's the most recent form of the teleological argument for the existence of God, in the tradition that began at least as far back as Aristotle, something like 2500 years ago. For him, of course, it was natural philosophy, which has become the science of today, so it's not as if it's outside the realm of what we now call science, but that argument has remained in philosophy as most other subject matters of Aristotle's natural philosophy have become known as science.

Intelligent Design is certainly not religion. That's evidenced by the people who support it who do not believe in any religion. Antony Flew is just the latest and most famous proponent of ID not to accept any religion as a result of it (or even many of the traditional attributes of God). Michael Denton was saying similar things in the 1980s. He's an atheist, and he thinks some sort of argument along the lines ID people give is correct against the standard neo-Darwinian picture (though he accepts large parts of it, as do most IDers). It's true that most ID people are Christians, but that doesn't mean it's religion, either in principle or even for those Christians who accept it. It's a philosophical argument that many Christians accept, and they accept it because they think it's a good argument, not because it occurs in the Bible.

Ignorant searches landing at this blog since Monday (that successfully found very little of use):

name for native people in India
Umm ... Indians? At least that's the most general term. There are more specific ethnic minorities who are also native, but I think they're Indians too. It's not clear from the search which one it was supposed to be referring to.

How many misdiagnosis were there in 2004
Do you think God intends to report the exact number of times someone gets a disagnosis wrong to someone who both has a website and wants to put the information online?

africa mindset culture
So are Germans are as bad as most Americans in thinking of Africa as a country with one culture and mindset?

On to the roundup:

This will probably last just until the next Ecosystem update, which could be during the night or tomorrow morning sometime, but at the moment the top blog in the Ecosystem has linked to me. These flukes are fun. I wish I had a screen shot of when La Shawn was #1 and I was in the top ten, while Instapundit was barely on the map.

I'm way behind on this, but I had some thoughts on this that I hadn't seen anyone else saying, so now that I have a moment I'd like to say them. Nicholas Kristof's column in The New York Times a week and a half ago was on interracial couples in American culture and particular in popular media. This generated quite a bit of discussion.

Nowheresville, USA has a nice post about some bad arguments for not sending your kids to public schools, followed up by an equally good second post.

There's also a third post, but his skill in responding to the arguments against public schooling doesn't manifest itself in his arguments against homeschooling, which seem to me about as bad as the arguments he's responding to against public school (note the false empirical claims about what homeschooled kids turn out to be like; see my comment). This is one of those issues where it's just overreaching to claim you have a conclusive argument for or against any of the major positions. I can think of about four or five major views you could take about schooling, and each one of them is false if taken as the only legitimate way or even as the best way for all parents and all kids.

Apparently The Dane is planning at least three or four more posts, so this will be a major series. [Hat tip: Jollyblogger]

I've had no truly interesting searches since Thursday, so we'll go right on to the roundup:

Captain's Quarters questions some mistaken reports about what the Iraq Survey Group has said. They have a little footnote indicating that the evidence is inconclusive on whether WMD were transported unofficially outside Iraq before the fighting began on the ground. Apparently it's being reported as a claim that no WMD were thus transported, which is certainly inaccurate as a reflection of what ISG said. See also Considerettes.

Also at the Considerettes: Now that Republicans have taken over in Georgia for the first time since Reconstruction, the Jim Crow laws have been officially repealed.

Joe Carter has a thought experiment to test some ethical premises in the stem cell debate. What if we could extract certain crucial compounds from human embryos by mass-producing them, boiling them up in a soup, and eating them as a cure for all sorts of currently incurable conditions?

Zach Wendling has a nice post at In the Agora about one true statement conservatives often say. It's true that there's more forestation in the U.S. than there's been in something like 100 years. It's also true that this is a very misleading statement. I don't think most environmentalists will want to grant everything he says, and I know many conservatives will think he goes too far in the other direction, but I think this is a great post that just says what ought to be said.

Meanwhile, Paul Musgrave at In the Agora deals with an objection from Democrats that Republicans filibustered Abe Fortas' nomination for Chief Justice. His nomination was questionable apart from ideology, the filibuster is a completely different animal nowadays, and it's not necessarily hypocrisy to use a legal procedure while it's legal while thinking it should be made illegal (and the example he gives makes that absolutely clear).

Kentucky Packrat will be hosting the 68th Christian Carnival this week. The Christian Carnival is a weekly collection of some of the best posts of the Christian blogosphere. It's open to Christians of Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic convictions. One of the goals of this carnival is to offer our readers to a broad range of Christian thought. This is a great way to make your writing more well known and Perhaps pick up some regular readers.

To enter is simple. First, your post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are about home life, politics, or current events from a Christian point of view. Second, please submit only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival (i.e. from last Wednesday through this coming Tuesday).

Then do the following:


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Thomas Sowell has been insisting for years that what causes lower performance levels by blacks in school and on intelligence and aptitude tests is cultural. His latest column summarizes his arguments that it's not racism or inherent genetic unintelligence at root. What I haven't seen in his work until now is much of a positive story besides simply saying that it's cultural. [hat tip: truegrit] This column gives a more detailed answer. The cause is the redneck culture that blacks absorbed that is now concentrated among what he calls black rednecks in today's ghettos. According to Joanne Jacobs [hat tip: Sam], his argument is not to demean black culture but to say that this redneck black culture is not authentic black culture. His book-length treatment will discuss that aspect, apparently. I didn't see it in the column.



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