Thursday, August 30, 2007

A gem from Tektonics

An interesting discussion that touches upon David Instone-Brewer's work:

"After addressing Krueger's second (and now third, fourth) reply to this item, it has become more clear than ever that he follows the usual line of what one reader of this site has called "fundamentalist atheism." In essence, the fundamentalist atheist (or agnostic, or Skeptic; we use the term "atheist" for convenience) is a critic who reads the Bible the same way that a fundamentalist Christian would, as though it were something written yesterday and with them in mind, and that it can be easily understood and commented upon in scholarly detail and authoritatively by any yahoo with decent eyesight. Such, as we have shown in various contexts and with reference to various parties, is simply not the case."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Review of Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible: The Social and Literary Contex


ISSN 0045-0308

BOOK REVIEW Published in Volume 53, 2005

DAVID INSTONE-BREWER, Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible: The Social and Literary Context (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002). Pp. xi+355. $US26.00.
One of the strengths of this book is the close attention paid to primary sources, and the careful and considered approach to their interpretation. For readers who do not have Instone-Brewer’s expertise in either ancient near eastern texts or Rabbinics, this book is especially helpful. Instone-Brewer insists that, to properly understand the New Testament texts relating to divorce (and remarriage), it is essential that they be read “through the eyes of a first century believer.”


He concludes with the strong statement:
The message of the NT is that divorce is allowed but should be avoided whenever possible. Divorce is allowed only on the grounds of broken mar-riage vows, and the decision to divorce can be made only by the injured party … If divorce does happen, remarriage is permitted. All this would be obvious to a first-century believer, but the meaning of the text was obscured at a very early date due to ignorance about the Jewish background after 70 C.E. … The Church should now be humble and admit that a great mistake has been made. Too many generations of husbands and wives have been forced to remain with their abusing or neglectful partners and have not been allowed to divorce even after suffering repeated unfaithfulness.
Instone-Brewer’s book is a tour de force on this subject, and while it will inevitably raise serious questions and some disagreement, his treatment of the texts upon which debate must focus and the competent and judicious way in which he handles them de-serve the most serious attention......[more]

Explanation of a Hedge Fund


What is the deal with hedge funds?
By John W. Schoen
Senior Producer
Updated: 5:38 a.m. PT Aug 27, 2007

The original ancestors of what we now call hedge funds were a specialized form of investing that placed a very specific kind of bet — looking for opportunities to “hedge” one investment with another. Unlike a mutual fund, which buy stocks and holds onto them hoping they go up, hedge funds also sell stocks short, buy futures contracts to offset risks and use an increasingly complex set of derivatives — a specialized breed of financial instrument, many of which were invented to help investors hedge the basic risks of owning a stock or bond outright....[more]

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Review of "The Secret" by a Christian

I sorted through a variety of reviews both pro and con about "The Secret" on Christian blogs. This is one of the better ones:

"Without mentioning Jesus, she quotes Him in Matthew 21:22 and Mark 11:24, claiming that the teaching to ask, believe, and receive in prayer is the way to "create what you want in three simple steps" (p. 47). And of course, it is not God we're to ask, but "the Universe." Thus The Secret is pantheistic, that is, it teaches that God is not a Person; rather He is to be equated with the totality of everything."

"It is no exaggeration to say that this book implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) denies virtually every major doctrine in the Bible. For starters, the authority of Scripture is undermined in The Secret, because the Bible apparently has value only insofar as it (according to Byrne) teaches The Secret....[more]"

Friday, August 24, 2007

"The Secret" Exposed

This appeared on boingboing:

Friday, August 24, 2007

Exposing "The Secret"

Jody Radzik of the always-illuminating Guruphiliac blog says, "Here's an excellent explanation, deconstruction and debunking of that claptrap "The Secret." From "The Wrath of the Secretrons" by Connie L. Schmidt:
f you’re at all familiar with The Secret, you know that the big secret revealed therein is a centuries-old principle called the law of attraction, or LOA. In The Secret LOA is presented as a scientific law akin to the law of gravity. LOA believers maintain that whether we realize it or not, we “attract” everything that happens to us – the good and the bad, the sublime and the silly, the comical and the tragic. Financial success or failure, health or illness, a life of peace or one beset by violent crime or natural disasters, all occur because we somehow attracted them. Proponents of LOA explain that this happens because our vibrations are in sync with the events in question. If we learn to focus on the good and ignore the bad, we will “raise our vibrations” and attract more good things into our lives – including, and some would say especially, material goodies....[more]

Thousands of college students in Washington don't understand simple algebra

Educators tackle a math problem

State plans to raise high school graduation requirement


Thousands of college students in Washington don't understand simple algebra and must take classes to learn what they should have mastered in high school....[more]

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Instone-Brewer's Divorce and Remarriage in 1st and 21st Century

David Instone-Brewer's website at Cambridge University contains the complete text of a book that contrast the understanding of divorce in Jesus' and modern times. An excerpt:

"I have used capital letters at the start of 'Any Matter' and 'Indecency' because, as I will show below, they are actually Jewish technical legal terms. Any Jew in the 1st century would be familiar with these terms, just as any 21st century person is familiar with terms like 'no-fault divorce' and 'maintenance'. For example, a 1st century Jew might think that a 'no-fault divorce' was one where the legal paper-work was error-free, or that 'maintenance' referred to maintaining the singleness of a divorcee. As 21st century readers, we are likely to suffer just as much misunderstanding, unless we can understand the legal jargon which Jesus is using, in the way that a 1st century reader would have understood it."

The "Any Matter", "Any Reason" or "Any Cause" divorce was discussed in previous posts. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

The first century "Any Cause" divorce is very similar to the modern "No-Fault Divorce."

Matthew 19:3 (NASB)

Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?"

A modern version might read:

"Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife using the No-Fault method?" Or "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for no fault at all?" What will No-Fault mean 2000 years from now?

Monday, August 20, 2007

March up Bald Mt.

Pictures from the first annual All Souls Church men's hike up Bald Mountain (5,334 ft) located in St. Joe's National Forest. Starting from the Giant White Pine campgrounds off Hwy 6 to the lookout tower is about 18 miles RT with about 3800 vertical feet of climbing.

The fellowship of the surly five.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

1 Corinthians 10:1-13

1 Corinthians 10:1-13

Solution to Randomness and the Genetic Code

From the BBC:

The research has proved that a Rubik's cube can be returned to its original state in no more than 26 moves.
The supercomputer took 63 hours to crank out the proof which goes one better than the previous best solution.

It took some smart thinking by graduate student Daniel Kunkle and Gene Cooperman from Northeastern University in Boston to come up with the proof because cranking through the 43 billion billion possible Rubik's cube positions would take too long even for a supercomputer....

The study brings scientists one step closer to finding the so-called "God's Number" which is the minimum number of moves needed to solve any disordered Rubik's cube.

It is so named because God would only need the smallest number of moves to solve a cube. Theoretical work suggests that God's Number is in the "low 20s"....[more]

Contrast the above with an American Scientist article from a few years ago:

Freeland and his colleagues compared the biological code with another set of a million random variations. The natural code emerged as the uncontested champion. They wrote of the biological code: “ appears at or very close to a global optimum for error minimization: the best of all possible codes.”....

The idea that the genetic code is evolving under pressure to ameliorate errors—or indeed that it is evolving at all—has not won universal assent. Some cogent objections were set forth as early as 1967 by Carl R. Woese of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Among other points, he noted that if a trait is actively evolving, you would expect to see some variation.....[more]

Antibiotics, Bacteriophages, and Super Bugs

From the BBC:

An old-fashioned treatment for bacterial infections which was once found in every Red Army soldier's kit bag is being touted as a new weapon against hospital superbug MRSA....[more]

More on MSRA

Science v. Religion?

From Today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Religion and science are two different ways of knowing. Both have a place. Religion tends to deal in the "Why?" questions. Why is there a world? Religion answers, "God." No one has to accept that answer, but it is an answer that science can neither confirm nor deny. Science works on the "How?" questions. How have the world and its diverse life forms come to be?...[more]