Of course I'm liberal, I believe in liberty.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Geography Test

Go to maps.google.com and click on Satellite in the top, right-hand corner. Without peeking at the maps try to find the following:

1) Central Park
2) The Washington Monument
3) Disneyland
4) Luxur on the Vegas Strip
5) Your own house.

Personally, I had to cheat just a bit on 1) and a whole lot on 2) and 3).

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Pope John Paul II

I just wanted to chime in quickly on Pope John Paul II. I've always had a great deal of respect for the man and his Culture of Life. John Paul II was always consistent on his support of life, he opposed both euthanasia and the death penalty; he fought against abortion and war. The day he visited and forgave his attempted murderer is one we will all remember. Consistent.

Contrast this to our politicians who love to throw around the term "Culture of Life" to fish for votes but turn around and execute mentally retarded murderers, sign laws to let hospitals turn off life support against the patient's and family's will to save money and start wars based on speculation and fear.

I don't agree with the Culture of Life in terms of law, sometimes wars are necessary or the lessor of evils (Afghanistan, Kosovo, Gulf War I), sometimes a women believes an abortion is the best choice for her family, and certainly legal abortions are preferable to our daughters dying to the illegal kind, but the Culture of Life represents the ideal we should all strive for. The church should support that ideal.

I do have a problem with the birth control issue, but not as much as others. The most important method to prevent women from getting pregnant too young or too often is education; the negative correlation between birth rates and education is amazing; even a third grade education means so much, and the Catholic church is one of the greatest educators of young girls in third world countries. Despite what the critics claim, the church has done more to curb birth rates in third world countries than most any other organization. True, it wasn't really on purpose, but that was the result.

I'm not Catholic, but if I had my wish there are a few areas I'd like to see change. One is the birth control issue just mentioned. Also, I'd like to see them revisit the end of life issue. As technology advances death becomes less and less the 'will of God' and more the decisions of humans. How do we deal with that? What is moral? We can no longer pretend we don't make those decisions, we do, so how do we make them? For abortion I agree with the ideal even if I disagree with the law, but for end of life decisions I think the ideal needs to embrace the complexity more.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Rapture vs Environmentalism

My cousin sent me an article from the Omega Letter about the coming rapture. The full article is here. What follows are the relevant parts and my reply:
Depending upon whom one asks the question, mankind has been on this planet for somewhere between six thousand and six million years. The six million year figure is the extreme end of the evolutionist's estimates, where the six thousand year period is the time frame generally accepted by creationists.

Allow yourself to dwell, for a minute, on just how long six thousand years really is. Not in abstract, cosmic terms, but rather, in terms of human society. It was only six hundred years ago that conventional wisdom said the earth was flat. Mankind had been on the earth for more than five thousand five hundred years before we learned otherwise.

America, the greatest nation the world has ever known, is only two-hundred and twenty-nine years old. It was just one hundred and forty-five years ago that Americans were willing to kill each other over the right to own other human beings as property.

Only sixty years ago, human beings were being shoveled into ovens in their millions or shot down into mass graves at the hands of citizens of the oldest and most cultured civilizations in Europe.

Even at six thousand years, man has been here a long, long time, when you think about it.
The approaching hoofbeats of the Pale Rider, by whatever name, are getting too loud to ignore. Evidently, after six thousand years, the human race has used up our host planet.

A new scientific study -- prepared in Washington under the supervision of a board chaired by Robert Watson, the British-born chief scientist at the World Bank and a former scientific adviser to the White House -- warns that very thing.

According to the study, human civilization has consumed two-thirds of the world's resources, most of it in just the last sixty years. Among the study's findings:

• Because of human demand for food, fresh water, timber, fiber and fuel, more land has been claimed for agriculture in the last 60 years than in the 18th and 19th centuries combined.

• An estimated 24% of the Earth's land surface is now cultivated.

• Water withdrawals from lakes and rivers has doubled in the last 40 years. Humans now use between 40% and 50% of all available freshwater running off the land.

• At least a quarter of all fish stocks are overharvested. In some areas, the catch is now less than a hundredth of that before industrial fishing.

• Since 1980, about 35% of mangroves have been lost, 20% of the world's coral reefs have been destroyed and another 20% badly degraded.

• Deforestation and other changes could increase the risks of malaria and cholera, and open the way for new and so far unknown disease to emerge.

•Flow from rivers has been reduced dramatically. For parts of the year, the Yellow River in China, the Nile in Africa and the Colorado in North America dry up before they reach the ocean.

•An estimated 90% of the total weight of the ocean's large predators - tuna, swordfish and sharks - has disappeared in recent years.

•An estimated 12% of bird species, 25% of mammals and more than 30% of all amphibians are threatened with extinction within the next century.

Let's revisit the fact we've been on this planet for six thousand years. Or even, for the sake of argument, some indeterminite period of millions of years, which makes it even more amazing.

Which ever time frame fits your comfort zone, it is nonetheless this generation that is alleged to have used it all up and begun the process of planetary doom.

It is THIS generation in which men's hearts have begun to fail them 'for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.'

Signs in the sun, moon and stars have astronomers baffled; fears of a catastrophic collision with giant space rocks have us scanning the heavens and planning our defense from a threat that a generation ago, we didn't even know existed.

The 'distress of nations' is palpable; the United Nations has a whole bureaucracy exclusively devoted to saving the planet from extinction.

The study says that we are running out of food sources, out of fresh water, we face the threat of killer plagues and epidemics; we've overfished the oceans and destroyed the seabed.

And the study concludes all this damage took place -- not gradually over six thousand years of human existence -- but within a single generation!
Like science, Bible prophecy also foretells the impending ecological judgment of the planet, saying that it will come upon a single generation, somewhere in time.

Logic demands an explanation, and coincidence won't do. The only other explanation is that it is true. That time is running out. That the Lord is about to return, exactly as the Bible says He will.

It is time to choose Whom you will serve. There isn't time to put it off. There really isn't.
He is coming!
My reply:

Well, I can't speak for the theology, but I can comment on the science:

The six million year number is very long for anything that should be called 'mankind', the number is probably less than 100,000 years, but they called it an 'extreme estimate' so no complaints there.

"It was only six hundred years ago that conventional wisdom said the earth was flat." Not true. The ancient Egyptians had the circumference of the Earth measured to an astonishingly accurate number. Commoners 600 years ago may have thought the world was flat but the educated class did not. There was, however, argument over the size of the planet -- Columbus thought the world was much smaller than what the ancients thought. Columbus was wrong but he died believing he was correct.

What hits me about the rest of the article, though, is the assumed belief that our morals and wisdom are in a decline. Yet, every time he refers to where mankind used to be, he points out how our morals and wisdom have *improved*. Better knowledge of our world, the end of slavery, the end of death camps, etc.

The human race is growing up yet people seem so determined to think we are going in the other direction, losing our wisdom and morals. But look at the real world and it just isn't so. We still have a long way to go, but we are getting there.

But yes, the environmental problems are real, but they aren't irreversible yet. The Earth is proving itself quite resilient, so far. We are still learning how to take care of this planet of ours. We're getting there. Are hearts are not failing, at least they are failing less than they used to. He mentions overfishing but for the most part we stopped doing that! See, we are learning.

The reason all of this happened recently isn't the decline in morals or wisdom, it's the increase of technology and power. So far I believe wisdom is outpacing technology, but it's a close race. I have faith wisdom will win. Fortunately, many of the answers to these problems are also technological, so 'winning' the race isn't even required.

Remember, faith is about hope and optimism, not an easy way out. (Ok, so I commented on the theology, so sue me! :-)

Planning on the prophesies saving us from a dying planet is like ignoring retirement funds because you might win the lottery. Regardless of what actually happens we need to *plan* on the assumption we are on our own.

What scares me is some people start using the rapture as an excuse to not fix these problems. Even if Jesus comes tomorrow let's fix what we can today! But please, please, please let's not secretly wish for the problems to worsen in the hope it will quicken Jesus' return. Let's fix these problems.

Theocracy Watch

Constitution Restoration Act of 2005 - Amends the Federal judicial code to prohibit the U.S. Supreme Court and the Federal district courts from exercising jurisdiction over any matter in which relief is sought against an entity of Federal, State, or local government or an officer or agent of such government concerning that entity's, officer's, or agent's acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.

Prohibits a court of the United States from relying upon any law, policy, or other action of a foreign state or international organization in interpreting and applying the Constitution, other than English constitutional and common law up to the time of adoption of the U.S. Constitution.

Provides that any Federal court decision relating to an issue removed from Federal jurisdiction by this Act is not binding precedent on State courts.

Provides that any Supreme Court justice or Federal court judge who exceeds the jurisdictional limitations of this Act shall be deemed to have committed an offense for which the justice or judge may be removed, and to have violated the standard of good behavior required of Article III judges by the Constitution.

Light Blogging

It will probably be light blogging this week. I particularly busy at work and my wife is out of town, leaving little extra time. Kind of strange working from home and staying with the homeschooled kid; a different life style, not particularly chosen, it just sort of happened, but it works quite well for us.

I'm glad to see other blogs posting how they think the end-of-life laws should be modified, that is the correct line of discussion, not this wacky obsession with the courts that kept coming up the past few weeks. I'll chime in a bit later, when I have the time, but my short take is we should stop worrying about what is or is not an "extraordinary" means of keeping someone alive. The whole ordinary/extraordinary dichotomy is a practical one, not a moral one. If a means of life support can be afforded we are beyond practical considerations and purely in the realm of moral considerations.

Where the law needs to be more clear is on what level of brain damage leaves the person in a state morally equivalent to dead.