Sapphire Sky

August 27, 2011

Questioning Beginnings

Filed under: Atheism, agnostic, evolution, etc. — Anthony Biller @ 8:43 am

Ann Coulter on the media’s handling of evolution and politics: THE FLASH MOB METHOD OF SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY

Dr. Albert Mohler reviews NPR’s recent developments concerning the dispute over human origins within the church: False Start? The Controversy Over Adam and Eve Heats Up

Dr. Georgia Purdom has started an interesting series: Does “Worldview-Neutral” Science Exist? Part One

August 26, 2011

THE CHURCH-STATE PENDULUM SWINGS BOTH WAYS

Filed under: Atheism, agnostic, evolution, etc., homeschooling — deborahlawyer @ 8:45 am

Activists continue to use the worn-out phrase “separation of church and state” to eject religious expression from the public square.  But the Establishment Clause cuts both ways, prohibiting government hostility toward religion as well as the open endorsement that ruffles unbelieving feathers.

Advocates for Faith and Freedom is a fine Christian organization in Southern California that has been litigating Farnan v. Capistrano Unified School District.  (See http://www.faith-freedom.com.)  The plaintiff is Chad Farnan, a courageous Christian high school student who brought a case against his Advanced Placement European History teacher.  The teacher repeatedly ridiculed Chad’s faith: “When you put on your Jesus glasses, you can’t see the truth.”  A federal district judge issued a favorable ruling, finding an Establishment Clause violation when the teacher expressed “an unequivocal belief that creationism is ‘superstitious nonsense.'”  Unfortunately, the Ninth Circuit decided to skirt the constitutional issue.  The Court admitted that a teacher’s hostile comments about religion might cross the line, but granted immunity to the teacher because they could “not conclude that a reasonable teacher standing in [the teacher’s] shoes would have been on notice that his actions might be unconstitutional.”

Advocates for Faith and Freedom summed it up well:  “Just as public school teachers are not allowed to promote one religion in the classroom, they should not be able to use their classrooms as a platform to attack religion because the pendulum swings both ways.”  A.F.F. will seek further review in the Ninth Circuit, then petition the U.S. Supreme Court if that is unsuccessful.  Let’s pray that one of these courts gets it right.  The pendulum swings both ways—no endorsement, no hostility.

August 19, 2011

Tax the rich more! What’s wrong a little more immorality?

Filed under: culture, politics, economy, etc. — Anthony Biller @ 3:58 pm

Over at NRO, Peter Kirsanow suggests Today’s Questions for the President and presents the following facts:

  • The top 1 percent of income earners pay 38 percent of all federal income taxes. They earn 20 percent of all (adjusted gross) income.
  • The top 10 percent of income earners pay 70 percent of all federal income taxes. They earn 55 percent of all income.
  • The top 25 percent of all income earners pay 86 percent of all federal income taxes. They earn  67 percent of all income.
  • Approximately half of U.S. households pay no federal income taxes whatsoever

In response to President Obama’s recent suggestion that the gross budget deficits could easily be erased if more Americans were simply more willing to engage in “shared sacrifice.”  Mr. Kirsanow poses the obvious question which the feckless US press corp hasn’t, whom does the president have in mind?  Certainly not the bottom half of earners that pay effectively nothing. 

But these statistics are more than just rhetorical push back points.  In my opinion, the current distribution of burden for sustaining the federal behemoth is fundamentally immoral.  A plurality of government spending is now entitlement spending, meaning that these spending patterns reflect a massive redistribution of wealth.   We don’t all share in the burden of sustaining our civic government. 

I can hear the standard refrain already – our impoverished shouldn’t be required to pay.  Foremost, half our population isn’t impoverished, even by our “standard” of defining “poverty.”  Second, our standard for defining “poverty” is suspect, particularly by historical standards.  Most of whom we define as impoverished “suffer” air conditioning, Cable TV, and an Xbox.  Our “impoverished” suffer the highest rates of obesity.  Obesity is a serious health risk, perhaps the most serious modern epidemic, however, never before in history and almost nowhere in the world where true poverty is still known is “obesity” a symptom of poverty.  There are some truly poor and downtrodden in the United States, however, it’s a small fraction of those “labeled” as in “poverty” in this country.

The vast majority of Americans can and should financially contribute to our shared form of government.  It’s immoral to shift the burden onto a minority while conveying advantages without any payment to those that have the ability to pay. 

The popular sentiment, however, remains that “the rich should pay more.”  The United States is quickly becoming a land of “From each according to his ability, and to each according to his need.”  Unfortunately, too few appreciate just how fundamentally un-American and illiberal is such sentiment and how dangerous it proved to be in the 20th Century when played out in places far away.

August 18, 2011

POISONING OUR YOUTH—OR PROTECTING OUR FREEDOM?

Filed under: Atheism, agnostic, evolution, etc., culture, entertainment, homeschooling — deborahlawyer @ 2:40 pm

Recently the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that violent video games enjoy First Amendment protection—even when sold to our youth.  Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, 113 S.Ct. 2729 (2011).  The Court struck down a California law that prohibited the sale or rental of these games to children under 18.  At first glance this might sound like a victory for those who want to poison our young people.

Not so fast!  Decisions like this cut both ways.  The First Amendment protects a lot of speech that we as Christians find highly offensive.  But it also protects our right to
preach the gospel—to people of all ages
.  I used to live in California, where I participated in volunteer ministry to children.  I volunteered for Child Evangelism Fellowship, an organization that directs its efforts to children at state fairs and other public places.  On Sunday mornings, I accompanied other volunteers from Pacific Youth Correctional Ministries to a county facility for children removed from their homes for neglect and abuse.  We held chapel and Sunday School for those children.  I was also part of a large chaplaincy program at Olive Crest, a private nonprofit that operates group homes for abused children.  If atheists in America had their way, there would be laws prohibiting this type of religious evangelism to minors.  Look at what the Supreme Court just said in the Brown decision:

And what is good for First Amendment rights of speech must be good for First Amendment rights of religion as well: It could be made criminal to admit a person under 18 to church, or to give a person under 18 a religious tract, without his parents’ prior consent.

Modern atheism has taken on an “evangelistic” fervor.  Atheists do not merely reject religion for themselves—they insist that religion is dangerous.  Authors like
Christopher Hitchins, Richard Dawkins, and Samuel Harris are on a rampage to stamp out religion.  In the legal arena, atheists have removed prayer and Bible reading from our public schools and filed a multitude of lawsuits to eject religious expression from the public square.  Meanwhile, anti-Christian materials corrupt school curriculum—evolution, sex education, homosexuality.  Parental complaints fall on deaf ears in the courts of “Christian America.”

Parents have the constitutional right to direct the upbringing of their children in their homes and schools.  They should be able to opt out of objectionable programs and actively participate in decisions about what the schools are teaching their children.  Government ought to support them—not cram corrupted teachings down the throats of our families.   The recent Brown decision affirms this, observing that

…the state has the power to enforce parental prohibitions — to require, for example, that the promoters of a rock concert exclude those minors whose parents have advised the promoters that their children are forbidden to attend. But it does not follow that the state has the power to prevent children from hearing or saying anything without their parents’ prior consent.

If the government starts making it illegal to present certain material to minors on the basis of content or viewpoint – the results won’t necessarily be what Christians would want, especially in today’s secular climate.  Christian parents must be vigilant.  If they don’t want their children playing violent video games, they need to supervise them—bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  It isn’t the government’s job to do that for them.

August 14, 2011

English Yobs

Filed under: politics, economy, etc., video, World etc. — Anthony Biller @ 4:47 pm

Just a few months ago, our family was studying the rich history of the English. We admired how the English planted worldwide highly refined views and systems of law, culture, and society.  The English system as reflected in its former colonies and former and current Commonwealth has been a blessing to millions if not billions over time.  The English belief in the rule of law, the common law, and the integrity of civil institutions has led to some of the freest and materially blessed countries in the world, to include our United States.  Our British friends are a long way from Runnymede and it’s been a dark hour in what used to be the center of an empire where the sun never set.

Are the English riots symptomatic of something fundamentally astray in the UK?  Are these the latest signs of the West unraveling?  Or are these isolated, unique occurrences?

Mark Levin believes the British riots are not an isolated aberrant event, but are instead reflective of the ongoing and accelerating collapse of the West.  See Levin: We are watching our society transform right before our eyes

Michael Youssef opines in Americans Should Learn from London, that those who sounded the warnings and tried to fix the UK’s unsustainable policies are being blamed for the violence and lawlessness – “whoever tries to bring sanity to a nation or a culture heading in the wrong direction will become the scapegoat.” The UK Socialist party readily agrees, at least that the Tory party reformers (conservatives) are to blame for the riots.  Indeed, they argue that the violent protests are a response to “Tory attacks.” The British socialists explain the nature of these supposed attacks – reductions in social welfare and overall government spending.  See here.

A Brit, Iain Murray has perhaps the most pointed and stinging critique of what gave rise to these mass acts of violence:

Most [rioters] have no jobs to go to or exams they might pass. They know no family role models, for most live in homes in which the father is unemployed, or from which he has decamped.

They are illiterate and innumerate, beyond maybe some dexterity with computer games and BlackBerries.

They are essentially wild beasts. I use that phrase advisedly, because it seems appropriate to young people bereft of the discipline that might make them employable; of the conscience that distinguishes between right and wrong.

They respond only to instinctive animal impulses — to eat and drink, have sex, seize or destroy the accessible property of others.

So there we have it: a large, amoral, brutalised sub-culture of young British people who lack education because they have no will to learn, and skills which might make them employable. They are too idle to accept work waitressing or doing domestic labour, which is why almost all such jobs are filled by immigrants.

They have no code of values to dissuade them from behaving anti-socially or, indeed, criminally, and small chance of being punished if they do so.

They have no sense of responsibility for themselves, far less towards others, and look to no future beyond the next meal, sexual encounter or TV football game.

They are an absolute deadweight upon society, because they contribute nothing yet cost the taxpayer billions. Liberal opinion holds they are victims, because society has failed to provide them with opportunities to develop their potential.

Most of us would say this is nonsense. Rather, they are victims of a perverted social ethos, which elevates personal freedom to an absolute, and denies the underclass the discipline — tough love — which alone might enable some of its members to escape from the swamp of dependency in which they live.

Only education — together with politicians, judges, policemen and teachers with the courage to force feral humans to obey rules the rest of us have accepted all our lives — can provide a way forward and a way out for these people.

They are products of a culture which gives them so much unconditionally that they are let off learning how to become human beings. My dogs are better behaved and subscribe to a higher code of values than the young rioters of Tottenham, Hackney, Clapham and Birmingham.

See his full critique: The Failure of the Rule of Law in Britain

In unwittingly supporting Mr. Murray, two English women explained their motivation to riot: “It was madness, good fun … . Showing the rich people we do what we want.”

As always, Jonah Goldberg in Riot Rationalization Misses the Mark, makes eminent sense in cautioning against reading too much into a riot or series of riots, since riots have been around as long as human nature.

The problem, of course, is that even if conservatives are right, there’s precious little government can do to fill the holes in such souls.

Moreover, I think we put way too much effort into intellectualizing or romanticizing mob violence. Whatever the root causes of such behavior, the simple and unavoidable truth is that looters loot because they can.

[T]he people tearing apart English society are simply criminals, whose villainy is not diluted by their numbers, but magnified by them.

Solution? I think Mr. Goldberg provides a valid short-term solution: “If Britain lacks prisons to hold them, build more prisons. Call it a jobs program if it helps.”

Ultimately, however, Mr. Goldberg’s suggestion is myopic.  You can never build enough prisons to restrain the vices of an immoral culture.  The disease of systemic immorality is spreading across the West.  Whether it’s a lack of respect for civil authority, rampant sexual promiscuity, normalization of perversion, a disregard for your neighbor’s property, or gross fiscal irresponsibility, the Western nations are rapidly loosing their moral bearings. Indeed, we’re rapidly becoming exemplars of Romans 1:18-32.  This should not be surprising to Christians since over the past 100 years, particularly in Europe, westerners have strayed further and further away from Biblical truth and morality.  You can build more prisons, but the answer long-term is in building more churches and training and equipping the next generation in the truths of God’s word. 

A beauty of the West, thus far at least, is that we can openly observe, comment and argue over what we’re doing incorrect and right ourselves before it’s too late.  While there is presently much going wrong with western liberalism, there’s nothing so drastic that an open, free and determined people cannot overcome.

[revised 8/15/11]

August 11, 2011

Laws of Tyranny

Filed under: biz, legal, and professionalism, culture, video — Anthony Biller @ 6:07 pm

Derived from the same worldview as the laws that sanctioned and recognized the institution of slavery, the ultimate form of tyranny.

~ Tea Party activist, author, and motivational speaker Frantz Kebreau comparing a 1662 slave law to current abortion legislation via his Facebook page, August 8

(Check out his wife’s updated pro-life clothing line at Life Rocks)

Hat Tip: Jill Stanek

August 9, 2011

Remember

Filed under: culture, politics, economy, etc. — Anthony Biller @ 10:57 pm

Remember all those times Newsweek went out of its way to make candidate Obama look like an inexperienced empty suit by their photo selections of him?  And how the “mainstream” pubs treated him and Gov. Palin the same?  Oh yeah, forgot.  That never happened. See Andrew Cline’s The Newsweek Bachmann Cover

Remember all those times NPR went out of its way to make evolutionary zealots look bad and gave even voice to biblical Christians?  Never happened.  Never will. NPR dedicated a piece during prime drive time this morning to parroting the recent Christianity Today cover article showcasing the leading evangelical compromisers on human origins.  NPR phrased the issue as whether evangelicals were going to rely upon the authority of science or lose all intellectual credibility and stick with the authority of scripture – the classic science v. Bible false dichotomy.  The only positive in the coverage was that they did take a few seconds to talk to one Biblical evangelical, Dr. Mohler, which is more than I recall Christianity Today having done.  NPR also gave Dr. Mohler the last word and he used his soundbite well, stating “The moment you say ‘We have to abandon this theology in order to have the respect of the world,’ you end up with neither biblical orthodoxy nor the respect of the world.”

Societies that jettison God’s truths devolve into moral bankruptcy.  Systemic economic bankruptcy is typically tied directly to moral bankruptcy.  Pray we turn this mess around here and in Europe.  Interestingly, the church is thriving in the east, particularly in China and South Korea and their economies are booming.  So far, the 21st Century is foreshadowing that 2100 will be more different from 2000 than 2000 was from 1900. Like the last century, technology will continue to transform cultures and societies, but it appears a significant geo-political and economic shift is occurring.  Head West young man, so far you go east …

August 5, 2011

Outlook Negative – S&P Downgrade Full Text

Filed under: biz, legal, and professionalism — Anthony Biller @ 10:37 pm

“If the US Government was a family, they would be making $58,000 a year, they spend $75,000 a year, & are $327,000 in credit card debt. They are currently proposing BIG spending cuts to reduce their spending to $72,000 a year. These are the actual proportions of the federal budget & debt, reduced to a level that we can understand.” – Dave Ramsey

I wouldn’t invest my hard earned dollars in that family.  Apparently, S&P wouldn’t give that family the highest possible credit rating.  Shocking …

United States of America Long-Term Rating Lowered To ‘AA+’ On Political Risks And Rising Debt Burden; Outlook Negative

We have lowered our long-term sovereign credit rating on the United States of America to ‘AA+’ from ‘AAA’ and affirmed the ‘A-1+’ short-term rating.

We have also removed both the short- and long-term ratings from CreditWatch negative.

The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics.

More broadly, the downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges to a degree more than we envisioned when we assigned a negative outlook to the rating on April 18, 2011.

Since then, we have changed our view of the difficulties in bridging the gulf between the political parties over fiscal policy, which makes us pessimistic about the capacity of Congress and the Administration to be able to leverage their agreement this week into a broader fiscal consolidation plan that stabilizes the government’s debt dynamics any time soon.

The outlook on the long-term rating is negative. We could lower the long-term rating to ‘AA’ within the next two years if we see (more…)

August 4, 2011

President Bush and Wounded Warriors

Filed under: politics, economy, etc., video — Anthony Biller @ 8:14 am

 

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