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Thursday, 26 June 2008

Senator Kennedy calls Barack "Osama bin Ladin"

CounterOur guest commentator today is Lorne Baxter. To view it, click on the bar above (not the counter, but the enclosed space one line below it).

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Obituary for the English Language

Modern English passed away recently, following a steady decline in health that took a sudden turn for the worse a few years ago. The chief cause of death appears to be Political Correctness. "Murder" has been officially ruled out as a suspect.

Modern English was preceded in death by its parents and grandparents: Classical English, Middle English, and Old English, as well as numerous siblings and one cousin. Its sole surviving descendant is Post-Modern English.

Burial will be scheduled at a later date, as it always takes a while to put a language to rest after its decease.

******* ******* *******

Hi folks, I'm back. I had to take a few days off due to internet connectivity problems, probably somehow associated with Great Iowa Flood.

What provoked this article was a full-length news feature this morning on "the murder of a mountain gorilla." Now, this immediately brought to mind the Anthropoid Apes of Tarzan fiction, who could communicate with each other and even other species by spoken words in a language all of their own. Yet when Tublat killed Tarzan's father, threatened his mate Kala, and was eventually killed by Tarzan himself, the word "murder" never came into play. The shooting of mountain gorillas Senkwekwe Rugendo and his three wives was apparently the first documented case of inter-species murder.

So what is "murder," this newly coined member of the Post-Modern English vocabulary?

Basically, it is direct involvement in any class of death of which the speaker or writer does not approve, but the perpetrator does.

Therefore anti-abortionists can speak of a surgeon "murdering an unborn child" when he cuts her up in her mother's womb; anti-darwinists of parents "murdering their child" when they allow natural selection to take its course in the life of their diabetic daughter; anti-islamists of a father "murdering his daughter" when he slits her throat to deflect the shame she has brought upon her family; anti-suicidists of Jack Kevorkian "murdering his patients" when he holds a lethal gas mask over their mouths; and anti-homophobes of the likes of Jeffrey Dahmer "murdering their lovers" when they butcher and eat their sexual partners.

And the prescribed penalty for murder? Well, back in the days of Classical English at least, and even into the days of Modern English, Murder was, by definition, a capital crime. That no longer being the case, one can now face the incongruity of a stiffer penalty for "murdering" an unhatched bald eagle than for "murdering" an unborn child; for "murdering" a mountain gorilla than for "murdering" an immodest daughter. There is no longer a legal connection between the past participle "executed" and the prepositional phrase "for murder." It is no longer so important that murderers be removed from the gene pool, as that they show public contrition for their politically incorrect deeds.

I have three questions for the creators of post-modern English.

1) When machete-wielding vigilantes hack apart captured thieves and leave their bodies to rot along the path as an example to others, to whom would this action be describable as "murder," and who would be the appropriate body to carry out the penalty thereof?

2) How long after suicide is allowed among other species before the legalization of inter-species assisted suicide?

2) How many mountain gorillas does one have to kill, out of a total population of less than 500, to become a "mass murderer?"


I'm back again in February 2009, to report a curious fact: for the 15 months following the 'execution' of the 5 gorillas from the Rugendo family, the Burunga National Park where they had lived was a combat zone; no park rangers were able to do their jobs. Ironically, when the rangers returned, they found that the Rugendo family had actually grown in their absence. Coming out of a 15-month war, the Burunga National Park now boasts more mountain gorillas than it had before. So was it murder--or population control?

Friday, 13 June 2008

Review of "The Gap Fact" by Michael Pearl

In his book entitled Eight Kingdoms, Michael Pearl included a whole section on what he calls The Gap Fact. I haven't read the book, but Mike was so kind as to excerpt that section on his website, usually available via clicking on the post title above (UPDATE: Alas, like most old links, it has gone dead. But I have gotten a hold of the book itself, which turned out to vary slightly from the version quoted here).

Without coming out and naming any of them, Mike really takes Creation Scientists to task for rejecting what they call The Gap Theory. But Michael Pearl's "Gap Fact" is a rather different animal than the Ruin-Reconstruction Theory of Thomas Chalmers and C. I. Scofield. The Ruin-Reconstruction Theory starts with the latest geological speculation about the earth's history, and then goes to the Bible to try to find a place to fit it in. Michael Pearl's Gap Theory, however, starts and ends with the King James Bible, without any more regard for what the old-age geologists may think than for the latest theories of Scientific Creationism.

Well, to a point. Mike opens his excerpt with the startling statement, "Modern secular scientists believe that the earth and universe are millions of years old. We who know and believe the Bible reject that claim outright." But having rejected millions of years as having been way too long (actually, that isn't nearly long enough; geologists now maintain that the earth and universe are several billions of years old), he goes on to say, "After many centuries or millennium the earth, created “to be inhabited forever” (Isa. 45:17-18), was renewed with man, a creature of less statue than its original custodians (Heb. 2:7)."

Leaving aside the two misspelled words, this sentence begs the question of the length of the Gap between the first two verses of Genesis. How could its duration in years be expressed so vaguely as hundreds or thousands, but to the unquestioned exclusion of millions? For that matter, where does he come from with the idea that the Gap must have lasted for centuries--or even a decade? He seems to be unsure of how far to trust the geologists while rejecting both their claims, and those of the Young Earth Creationists (YECs), as to the true age of the earth.

But regardless of his own vague theories as to its duration, Mike makes what first appears to be a pretty good case for its existence. I won't go into all the details here, since the link is usually available, but I will interact with some of the points he brings up.

1) History of the Gap Fact

"Furthermore, well before Darwin came along, and before backslidden Christians sought to make time for evolution, Bible believers knew and proclaimed that the earth existed before the six days of Genesis. One example will suffice. Everyone is familiar with 5th century Augustine. He wrote in his Confessions that which was commonly believed in his day." (He goes on to quote from book 12:VIII:8)

This is a valid point, but it is helpful to his thesis only because Augustine quotes from a Latin version of a Greek recension of a Hebrew edition of the book of Genesis. Had Augustine been able to read Hebrew, it would have erased the heaven/heavens distinction which forms a major pillar in Michael Pearl's Gap Theory. In fact, Mike goes on to say, without any documentation whatsoever, "The Jews of old recognized this obvious truth, that the earth was created sometime before Gen 1:3. They had no reason to be biased one way or the other. They just believed the Hebrew text as it read and therefore believed in a “gap”." Somebody had to make this up, because it simply isn't true. One wonders if Mike even realises, as enamoured as he is with the King James Version, that in Genesis the majority Hebrew text consistently has "heavens" and the Greek "heaven," with the KJV not consistent in following either.

Mike makes a big deal out of the recent origin of the anti-gap (YEC) theory. He writes, "When I open up a commentary, unless it was written in the last twenty five years, I know that it is going to assume the reality of a gap. I went through the ones in my library and all but one recognized the gap. They are: The Bible Knowledge Commentary; A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory; The Wycliffe Bible Commentary; Jamieson, Fausset and Brown; and Bible Believer’s Commentary. None of them sought to insert evolution into the gap. . ."

But here he misses the whole point of the Ruin-Reconstruction Theory. It is not to insert evolution into the gap, but the long ages that evolution requires. Gap theorists roundly reject evolution while wholeheartedly accepting billions of years. This is just one of the inconsistencies that YEC's point out about it--not whether or not it is based on a clear understanding of Genesis 1:1-2.

2) Geological evidence for the Gap Fact

It appears that Mike is as ignorant of geology as he is of Hebrew. He states, "The evidence for the historical position of a gap is much more extensive scripturally and does not resort to extra Biblical arguments to support its position. We don’t point to the age of rocks or the time it takes for sand to form, etc. We know that regardless of when the earth was created or how old it is, it had to have been created with the appearance of age, just as was Adam. The trees God created had growth rings and rocks contained fossils."

Here Mike confuses growth rings and fossils with indications of age. Growth rings are merely indications of cyclic dormancy, and fossils are indications of underwater burial. Neither of these necessarily have anything to do with age, and it seems ludicrous to so matter-of-factly attribute them to God's creative activity. It is much more likely that God directly created sand so that the plants would have something other than solid rock, layered or otherwise, into which to sink their roots!

One point that is well put is that the second day of creation is obviously referring to God operating on previously existing material. But even here Mike's language trips him up, when he refers to the "days of creation." Elsewhere he makes a major distinction between "creating" which he only sees occurring on days five and six, and "making" which he sees as occurring on all six days. But he never calls them "the days of making!"

Well, perhaps I am being too general in ascribing the act of 'making' to the first day. Mike never clarified whether God 'made' light, or 'created' it. But he elsewhere claims (based on Job 28:7) that the stars were part of the original day-zero creation. How stars could exist without any light to shine forth from them, he never explains. True, it would be downright handy to have stars billions of light-years away not having to be only 6000 years old. But he's already rejected millions of years, so this helps his case not a whit.

3) Linguistic Evidence for the Gap Fact

Now as Mike gets into the original languages of Scripture, he obviously leaves behind the familiar and launches out into the wild and wonderful world of dogmatic speculation. Now, I'm no scholar of the biblical languages, and I haven't put enough study into this topic to give as accurate a picture as possible of the situation, but it took me no time at all to find his theory full of holes at this level.

For instance, he confidently states:
"There are two different words used in regard to God’s creative words—created and made. These two English words correspond exactly to two Hebrew words (also two Greek words and two Latin words in the Greek and Latin translations)."

This is not totally bogus, as there actually are two different Hebrew words that correspond to two words each in Greek, Latin, and English. However, this is far from being an accurate description of the case in Genesis. While the KJV follows fairly closely to the Latin in translating bara/creavit as 'create' and asha/fecit as 'make,' there simply is no such correspondence in the Greek words epoihsen and egeneto. Epoihsen is almost always used to translate both words, and egeneto only appears in parallel, as an an alternate translation of bara! And even in the Hebrew, both bara and asha are used of creating man in God's image, which Michael Pearl tries to split up into creation of man's soul (bara) and his body (asha)--a point he takes pains not to bring out.

4) Divine Inspiration for the Gap Fact

My final point shows the danger of basing a doctrine on the idiosyncrasies of the King James Version. Speaking of the anti-gap theory, Mike writes,
"If God made the heaven and the earth in six days, as the two passages above declare, then the passage in Gen 1:1-2 that says “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” could not be other than part of the six days, not some event prior to it as the gap proponents claim. Their argument would be entirely valid and irrefutable if the passages rendered the word heaven in the plural as it does elsewhere, and if it said created instead of made. But the Holy Spirit rendered heaven singular, indicating that only one of three heavens was created in Gen 1:1. "

Actually, this is saying too much. Because the Hebrew of Genesis One already does say 'heavens', and saying 'created' rather than 'made' would not destroy the meaning. The anti-gap argument does not stand or fall on the Bible version used to support it.

But Micheal Pearl's Gap Theory does.

Need I say more?

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Today's Rambling Review: Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage

Today's entry takes a look at an article (part of an ongoing series) published in The Heartbeat of the Remnant, a by-donation-only print magazine that is also available online. The series is called "Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage" and I can summarize the author's thesis by the appositive phrase "Good, Bad, and Not Allowed."

While author Dean Taylor does a good job overall of laying out his argument, I did detect a few weaknesses.

First of all, he refers to "The Textus Receptus" without really knowing what he is talking about:

"Although this misconception obviously predates the King James translation, it is possible to make a false assumption based upon some of the wording in our King James version. Look in your Bibles at Deuteronomy 24. It states: “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house” (Deut. 24:1).

"Unfortunately, the word “then” was not part of the original Hebrew, even in the “Textus Receptus,” from which the King James was derived."

Dean is on shaky ground here, as The Remnant has a King-James-Only policy (albeit a rather weak one), so he can't really attack the wording of the KJV itself. So he moves back a step and blames "The Textus Receptus" for mistranslating the Hebrew original.

As most biblical scholars know, The Textus Receptus generally only refers to the Greek text of the New Testament, and has nothing to do with Deuteronomy. The phrase in quotes should have been the "Masoretic Text."

Dean also propounds a rather unusual interpretation of "the exception clause:"

The exception clause applies only to the divorce, not the the remarriage.

Summarizing his teachings, he recaps what Jesus taught:

"Divorcing a wife and marrying another is adultery (Mark 19:11).
Marrying someone who has been divorced is adultery (Luke 16:18).
Divorcing a spouse for any reason except for fornication is to be guilty of causing your spouse to commit adultery (Matt 5:32, 19:9). "

But Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 don't say the same thing here. The last item above is found in 5:32, but what 19:9 actually says is:

Divorcing a spouse for any reason except for fornication, and marrying another is adultery.

This weakens the force of his whole thesis, so he has to merge it with the previous verse.

Not a good idea.

That's all I feel like writing today . . .

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Another sad case of biblical illiteracy

It's interesting how this blog has grown over the years that I've had it. I suppose I will never be in the top 100 as far as readership goes, and I certainly haven't managed to start any online discussions on my comment pages, but I consistently pull in several new viewers a day, mostly through search engines where The White Man is frequently in the top three to ten results--sometimes even the top result.

In addition I've developed a core of faithful readers, and it is for their sakes that I have decided, while maintaining the core purpose of this website as a pulpit for what interests me, to treat it more like a web log and post more often--every day or two, if I'm in the area. I can't guarantee the content will be interesting, but at least it will be new.

Today's post takes off on a recent article by George Friedman, founder of Stratfor, the premier civilian intelligence service. Subscription costs are close to a dollar a day, but all subscribers agree that it's worth it (that's somewhat of a tautology, I admit). Those who don't think it's worth that much might be able to sign up for the 'free version,' which is the level I'm at.

In today's Geopolitical Weekly, George talks about the US facing a warfare of the fourth generation, and the necessity of the military gearing itself for a threat that is localized, civilian, and capable of inflicting heavy casualties on the Military's political base.

I was following him just fine when I ran across this sentence:
"King David waged fourth-generation warfare in Galilee."

Now, I'm pretty well versed in the history of ancient Israel, and off the top of my head I can think of only one battle in Galilee that would have involved King David, and that was one that he managed to weasel his way out of without being charged with desertion (he was only a battalion commander at the time). It was the Philistine Invasion of Israel through the Jezreel Valley, and it was hardly fourth-generation warfare; the opposing armies were being led by their respective heads of state.

Now, I'm sure that George was actually referring to was an earlier period in David's life, when he led the life of a desert raider (I've referred to his no-survivor tactics in an earlier post). But this took place not in Galilee, but in the deserts of southern Judea.

A rather striking geohistorical error in a publication with "Geopolitical" in its name.

Friday, 6 June 2008

How to get the troops out of Iraq

The military occupation of Iraq has now gone on longer than the allied occupation of postwar Germany, and with considerably more casualties. Understandably, many members of the military would rather not serve there--some having already been through one or two rotations in The Sandbox. Reservists, who sat out the entire Vietnam Conflict, are carrying an enormous share of the load. Even troops in non-combatant roles are being dragged into the fight as they transverse an ever-shifting battlefield.

Well, for those who have had enough, and want to go home, I have good news. There are now two tried and true ways of getting a 1-way ticket on the next plane back to the US. Here they are:

1. Hand a Muslim a token with a Bible verse engraved on it.

2. Use a Qur'an for target practice.

I'm not saying that I recommend either of these actions*, only that I predict they would be very effective in getting anyone who carries them out a quick trip home--and probably a chance to work out his biceps while getting a nice tan at Ft. Leavenworth.

Just think: if every soldier in Iraq were to take just one of these actions, we could have all our troops home in no time.

*In the interests of full disclosure, I have never done either of these, nor do I ever intend to.