December 30, 2005
Upgrade to MovableType 3.2
Apologies for the brief outage earlier this evening. I should now be up and running correctly following my upgrade to MovableType 3.2. Please report any errors or difficulties you have with this blog to me by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks....
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Are Linguistic Facts Theologically Significant?
Gerald at iustificare has recently been doing a series on the theological consequences of "gender neutral" Bible translations. Gerald holds that the use of "male-representative language" - that is, the use of male terms to designate mixed gender groups - is significant to the Bible's view of God. Commentors (primarily the authors of Better Bibles Blog) have repeatedly pointed out that the male-representative language found in the Bible is simply the normal way of saying things in Greek and Hebrew. Gerald acknowledges this, but continues to believe that male-representative language is theologically significant, and therefore should continue to be used,...
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Homeland Security Visit to UMass Student a Hoax!
The story I reported here regarding the UMass Dartmouth student who reported having been visited by federal agents in connection with his request for Mao's Little Red Book has been revealed as a hoax. See here and here. Perhaps he just needed an extension on his paper......
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December 28, 2005
Christian Carnival CII
Christian Carnival CII is up at The Secret Life of Gary, with a link to my post, "Let's Make Creation Science Not Suck"....
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December 25, 2005
Meditations on the Incarnation
We will all, I'm sure, be hearing the story of the birth of Christ read from Matthew's or Luke's Gospel in the near future (most likely, in fact, we'll all be hearing Luke's account of the birth of Christ and the events preceding it, and Matthew's account of the visit from the Magi). These stories are wonderful, traditional, and inspirational (and also, importantly, TRUE). However, these are, in important ways historical
accounts of the coming of Christ, and as such, at least for me, they fail to impart the true magnitude of the event. They are tip-of-the-iceberg Ernest Hemingway types of accounts and it requires long hard consideration for us to even begin to understand their import. On the surface, Matthew and Mark tell a simple story of a peasant girl giving birth to her peasant son in a barn in a backwater province of the Roman Empire in the first century AD. Other children have been born in barns in backwater provinces. Sure, Matthew and Luke record various signs and portents surrounding the birth, but history claims the same for such figures as Alexander the Great. What is so special about the birth of this Jesus of Nazareth fellow? For years, I believed that Christmas was greatly overemphasized in the church. I often stated quite explicitly that Christmas was important only insofar as it was a necessary prerequisite for Easter. I no longer believe this; I believe that this event of the Incarnation is deeply meaningful in its own right, independent of the further important events in the life of Christ. This realization could, I'm sure, have been made by a deeper reading of Matthew and Luke in the broader context of Scripture, but, for me, it came through John's account ...
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December 24, 2005
How Much of Science is Philosophy?
There is an interesting post over at Parableman about the relationship between science and philosophy, in the context of the Intelligent Design debate. Jeremy claims that (1) ID is clearly not religious in nature, and (2) its philosophical nature is not a good reason to exclude it from science curriculum, because everything else in science is philosophical too. It's worth a read. Personally I've been arguing for some time (not on this blog, in real life) that the vast majority of scientists don't have a sufficient grasp of the philosophical foundations of their fields to adequately pursue some of the...
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Where Do Languages End and Cultural Assumptions Begin?
Better Bibles Blog has a discussion of the wording of Luke 2:40 in various Bible translations. The NKJV, the translation I normally use for devotional reading, etc., reads, "And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him." The BBB discussion centers on the fact that "filled with wisdom" is not very natural English (neither is "strong in spirit," for that matter, but the translations being discussed are all from the Alexandrian text family, which omits "in spirit"). "The grace of God was upon him" is not very natural English either. I agree with all of these statements, but some of the discussion in the comments has me asking a new question: where do languages end and cultural assumptions begin? ...
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December 22, 2005
Let's Make Creation Science Not Suck
Nearly a month ago, I posted without commentary a Leibniz quote about materialism and supernaturalism. At the time I was busy with classes and didn't have time to really address the issue I saw the quote raising, but now that finals are over, I'd like to take a minute and look at this. When I read this quote, I immediately thought of "creation science." Leibniz here describes what he sees as two false extremes: the one is represented today by the likes of Peter Atkins, the Oxford Chemist who insists that in order to properly follow scientific methodology one must...
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December 19, 2005
And Here I Thought Joseph McCarthy Was Dead...
From The Standard-Times, via slashdot: A senior at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth received a visit from federal agents two months ago, after requesting a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's Little Red Book through his school's inter-library loan program. Details are sparse, but it appears that some branch of the federal government (presumably the Department of Homeland Security) was monitoring the inter-library loan system, apparently without a warrant. The agents told the student, whom the Standard-Times had the courtesy not to identify, that the book was on a "watch list" (is that the same as a "blacklist"?). Buyer beware! Apparently everyone...
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December 15, 2005
Accuracy of Wikipedia vs. Brittanica
From Nature magazine via slashdot: a survey by experts of articles on 42 science related topics (e.g. "Cambrian Explosion," "lymphocyte," "neural network," "quark," etc. Complete list here) found that the Wikipedia articles contained an average 4 errors per article, whereas Encyclopedia Brittanica contained on average 3. Each encyclopedia contained four instances of "serious errors, such as misinterpretations of important concepts" in the 42 articles surveyed. The rest were minor factual errors. Interestingly, the article with the most errors seems to have been the same for both Wikipedia and Brittanica: that on Dmitry Mendeleev, where Wikipedia contained 19 errors, and Brittanica...
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December 12, 2005
The Myth of Narnia
I'm studying for finals right now, and don't have time for a full discussion, but I want to give a quick note on this New York Times editorial on the commericalization of "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe," and the ensuing fight between the Christian right and secular Narnia lovers. I think the author of this editorial is right on in taking the middle road with her claim that, on the one hand, the "religious subtext" is obviously present but, on the other hand, C.S. Lewis would not appreciate attempts by Christians to make that subtext overt or to...
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December 6, 2005
"Talents" in Matthew 25
Peter Kirk has a post on Better Bibles Blog concerning the TNIV's decision to render the Greek word talanton as "bag of gold," instead of the traditional "talent." This is another translation vs. transliteration issue, so let's go back to the Oxford English Dictionary and look at some more etymology. The word talent is first attested in 893, in the usage which is the proper interpretation of this verse: that is, it was transliterated (not in a Bible translation!) apparently from the Latin talentum, to mean a certain measurement of weight. Most of the cultures of the ancient eastern Mediterranean...
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Digital Rights Management Software: Everyone Gets Screwed
The New York Times (see also slashdot) is running an Op-Ed by the lead singer of the band OK Go (which I have never heard of) explaining why Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology, like the stuff Sony BMG got itself in trouble with recently (see Freedom to Tinker, the blog of Princeton computer science professor Ed Felten, for all the technical details. Professor Felten first discussed the security flaws that got Sony in trouble here.) isn't good for anyone. In particular, the author argues, bands who have DRM forced upon them by their record labels end up being heard by...
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December 5, 2005
GOD or NOT 3: Miracles
The third installment of the GOD or NOT carnival, on the topic of "miracles," is now up at The Evangelical Atheist with a link to my post, "Can The New Testament Be Both Influenced By Plato and Inspired by God?". There seems to be a general concensus on two points: People talking about miracles should reference David Hume People who want to justify belief in miracles shouldn't claim that they are exceptions to "laws" of nature I, of course, agree on both points. Now, a couple of posts react to this by suggesting that natural laws are not really "laws,"...
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December 2, 2005
I've just returned from an interview with Philadelphia's CN8 News
magazine. The interview will air tonight (Friday) at 7 and 10.
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