Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. -- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Vegetative State?

Those who believe that people in "persistent vegetative states" are nothing more than lumps of meat with no inner lives that are hooked up to machines might want to read this:

Signs of consciousness have been detected in three people previously thought to be in a vegetative state, with the help of a cheap, portable device that can be used at the bedside.

"There's a man here who technically meets all the internationally agreed criteria for being in a vegetative state, yet he can generate 200 responses [to direct commands] with his brain," says Adrian Owen of the University of Western Ontario. "Clearly this guy is not in a true vegetative state. He's probably as conscious as you or I are."

In 2005, Owen's team, used functional MRI to show consciousness in a person who was in a persistent vegetative state, also known as wakeful unconsciousness – where the body still functions but the mind is unresponsive – for the first time. However, fMRI is costly and time-consuming, so his team set about searching for simple and cost-effective solutions for making bedside diagnoses of PVS. Now, they have devised a test that uses the relatively inexpensive and widely available electroencephalogram (EEG).

In three of the people with PVS, brain regions known to be associated with those tasks lit up with activity, despite physical unresponsiveness. This suggested to the researchers that the subjects were carrying out a complex set of cognitive functions including hearing the command, understanding language, sustaining attention and tapping into working memory.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street

Americans have two political protest movements of significance growing around the country at present: the Tea Party movement, and the Occupy Wall Street protesters. Both have legitimate grievances, to a degree, but neither agrees with the other on solutions to our nation's ills, or even on defining the problems plaguing us.

I do not hang my hopes on political movements. I put my faith in God, as He has overcome the world, whether we realize it or not. The best social movement we could ask for right now is revival -- revival of our homeland's love for God, recognition of His sovereignty, a longing for the enactment of His will, and a renewed patriotism that seeks the preservation of our way of life, rather than throwing our heritage at the feet of people who neither understand it nor deserve it.

When the Founding Fathers spoke of securing the blessings of liberty and bequeathing that gift to posterity, they were talking about us. We are posterity. And so are our children. And so are theirs.

The aforementioned protest movements understand, as seeing through a glass darkly, that the blessings of liberty are slipping away. My own take on this is that when the blessings of God fall away, so does liberty, as the two go hand-in-hand. I believe that the United States of America once was a nation blessed by God, but I think that the time of blessings is over, for the most part. Now is the time of judgment.

Who can deny that we deserve judgment? Our ruling elite wages wars around the globe for the most frivolous reasons, wars of such a self-serving nature for that selfsame elite that they cannot even articulate to the populace in a coherent fashion an answer to the question: "Why are we there?" We have slaughtered fifty million unborn innocent children since the advent of Roe v. Wade in 1973. In that time, the powers that be have tried convincing two generations that the selfish killing of their own flesh and blood is a constitutionally-enshrined holy right. Also within that same rough time frame, our "leaders" have transitioned from calling homosexuality a sin or a mental illness to its outright glorification, going so far as to promote homosexual adoption and "marriage," and allow the open serving of homosexuals in the U.S. military.

We are as ripe for judgment as a June blackberry.

That said, let's analyze the two popular political movements mentioned above for a few moments. The targets in their sights are the Wall Street bankers and lenders, and the federal government. These are the correct targets, as both are working together for the enrichment of themselves at the American people's expense. They're crony corporatists, not capitalists. And when they have drained the country dry like the parasites or vampires that they give a bad name, they plan to withdraw into their gated communities and palatial estates and live off the fabulous wealth extracted from people of much humbler means than themselves, while the rest of the nation goes to hell. The written word adequately cannot express my contempt for these people.

I see the Tea Party as the better movement of the two, for what it's worth. My reasoning follows.

1.) A significant segment of the Tea Party seems to understand that Wall Street is as much a thorn in our sides as the federal government. I don't believe that a majority of Tea Partiers have this awareness, but a not-trivial percentage does. I put the numbers at around 20-25%, and I base those numbers on the numerous news articles, blog posts, comments, and video footage I have read and watched involving people who associate themselves with the Tea Party movement.

I see no corresponding sense of awareness that the federal government is culpable for our economy's sorry state coming from the Occupy Wall Street crowd. In fact, the sole criticism that I have heard them direct at the feds is that our government has too little control and isn't left-wing enough to suit them. And as for Obama, I've heard nary a peep of protest aimed at him from the OWS people. That's particularly telling, because Barack Obama is more responsible for the disastrous shambles of our economy and the institution of socialism in every conceivable area of life than any other single individual.

2.) The Tea Party is protesting the federal government for the right reasons. Tea Partiers see the government as too big and unwieldy, too corrupt, with too much regulatory power over the economic market. Taxes are through the roof, and we're drowning in debt that will drag down our children and even our grandchildren, if we sit back and don't take action. The government provides too many handouts at taxpayer expense.

I don't think the Tea Party goes far enough in its criticism, as its leaders focus on the economy to the detriment of other equally important issues, such as immigration, the homosexual agenda, abortion, etc. But within the narrow scope of its protests, its members are right on the money.

They offer viable solutions, as well: hold accountable and remove from office corrupt government officials; loosen or eliminate regulatory controls; lower taxes; stop going deeper into debt and pay off the debts we've accumulated; stop confiscating monies from those who earned them, and giving them to those who consider channel surfing or getting knocked up for the nth time a hard day's work.

As for the Occupy Wall Street protesters, their beef with Wall Street primarily stems from their hatred of free enterprise. They see Wall Street as a bastion of free enterprise; they hate free enterprise; ergo, they hate Wall Street. Why? Because most of these protesters are socialists or communists or hippie types. They're ticked off because the government isn't even more massive than its present bloated, planetoid-sized carcass. They believe in more handouts, more bailouts -- when it comes to student loans -- and less soap.

What are their solutions to the problems we face? Ignore the rotten-to-the-core corruption of the highest official in our land; tighten and increase regulatory controls on the economic market; soak the rich by raising their taxes, though we already have a "progressive" tax system that has done just that (and when I say "Rich," I don't just mean crony corporatists; I mean everyone who makes above a certain dollar amount); go deeper into debt as a nation by handing out more taxpayer-funded goodies like a benevolent neighbor on Helloween; and redistribute wealth so that we all can live in Utopian mediocrity and poverty.

In terms of effectiveness at reaching its goals, neither movement is a humdinger. Both have myopia regarding the dual nature of our enemy. As I said earlier, both have understandable complaints and feelings of an ill wind blowing through the land. But when we look at the worldviews and political philosophies of the two movements, they couldn't be more different. One is for limited government, and one is for socialism, or its uglier cousin, communism.

Hope springs eternal in the human breast. If a hope is to be found in one of these political movements, however small, I think it is more likely to be found in the Tea Party, or a related offshoot. Either way, our faith in God and His Son and His Holy Spirit should come first. All else follows.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

An Improper Attribution

Atheists' Billboard Falsely Attributes Quote To Thomas Jefferson:

The sign, paid for by atheist group Backyard Skeptics, includes a quote about Christianity attributed to Thomas Jefferson. But further research reveals there's no solid evidence that Jefferson ever uttered or wrote the words, the Orange County Register first reported.

The billboard includes a picture of Jefferson with the quote: "I do not find in Christianity one redeeming feature. It is founded on fables and mythology." 

Bruce Gleason, a member of the group, told the Orange County Register that he should have done a bit more research before putting the words on the sign. The billboard was unveiled on Wednesday, the newspaper reports. Gleason explained that purpose of this sign and others around the city was to "expunge the myth that this is a Christian nation," as well as to "share the idea that you can be good and do good without a religion or god."

Typical irrational atheist sloppiness. Setting aside the fact that Jefferson never said the above words, the statement has other problems.

First, it contradicts or does not harmonize with comments or observations Jefferson is known to have made. For example, in his Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, p. 237 (1782), Jefferson said, "God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever; That a revolution of the wheel of fortune, a change of situation, is among possible events; that it may become probable by Supernatural influence! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in that event." These are not the musings of an atheist or an agnostic. In a letter to Benjamin Rush on 12 April, 1803, Jefferson said, To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; & believing he never claimed any other. Since Jesus is the central "feature" of Christianity, the idea that Jefferson found not one redeeming feature of Christianity is nonsense. He is not the ally that atheists believe him to be, and their usage of him in their quest for the eradication of Christianity and its influence smacks of desperation. Only the most ignorant or manipulable would fall prey to this quality of evidence. Apparently being a "Bright" means drawing as many of the unlearned and the gullible to The Cause as possible.

Second, it's an appeal to authority -- an authority who was one of the least Christian of all the Founding Fathers. His words or thoughts are not representative of the typical Founder's views. So even if Jefferson had indeed spoken those words, we would have no insight into the zeitgeist of early America. We'd have nothing more than his personal, aberrant opinion.

As for the atheist group responsible for the billboard: they must have an anemic case for their beliefs, if the best that they can do is to put spurious words into Thomas Jefferson's mouth.

I'll close with a question: Is attempting the destruction of someone's cherished beliefs with inept research and false information an example of being good or doing good without a religion or god?   

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All Foam, No Beer

Here's video of the full speech given by Rick Perry in New Hampshire on October 28, 2011. The man comes across as intoxicated.

I see two possibilities: either he knows that his campaign has gone to hell in a bucket, and he's just enjoying the ride, or he has an intellect rivaled only by garden tools.

From his ardor for criminal aliens, to his inane ramblings during speeches, to his literally incoherent jabs at Mitt Romney during the Republican debates, "Blotto" Perry is about as statesmanlike as Jeff Dunham with dummy in tow. And in that particular relationship, he'd be playing the dummy.