Language as “Darwin’s problem”

Noam Chomsky is not a conservative Christian but is rather a leftwing radical.  But in his day job, he is a pioneering linguist, having shown how all languages depend on “deep structures”–complex grammatical processes that are built into the human mind–that all languages have in common and that children can master almost without effort.

He has teamed with a famous anthropologist, Ian Tattersall, and other scholars (Johan J. Bolhuis and Robert C. Berwick) to pose the question How Could Language Have Evolved? They certainly believe in evolution and they try to find a minimalistic feature that might have evolved, but the article shows that language, with its irreducible complexity (the intelligence design term, not theirs), is very difficult  to explain in terms of random selection over time, to the point that the authors describe language as “Darwin’s problem.” [Read more...]

Making dismemberment abortion sound better

Kansas has banned late-term abortions that dismember the child.  Other states are considering passing the same law.  You have got to read the news story in the Washington Post, excerpted after the jump.  You might notice some bias in the story.  But notice to what extent the journalist has to twist her language–to the point of outlandish euphemism–to make this barbaric procedure palatable. [Read more...]

Supremes hear case on Obamacare language

The Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday on the most serious legal challenge to Obamacare so far.  At issue in King v. Burwell is whether the language in the Affordable Care Act that provides for federal subsidies for health insurance policies purchased in exchanges “established by the state” applies also to the policies purchased in the 34 states that refused to establish exchanges.

The clumsily written and largely unvetted law and the way it is being applied poses other questions for the court:  Does a law mean what it says, or what it surely must mean?  Do the words in a law mean what was originally intended (there is evidence that the writers of the law actually intended the provision to apply to state exchanges only in order to coerce states to establish them) or what the bureaucracy wants it to mean? [Read more...]

Righteous eating

“Orthodoxy” means “right belief.”  Now there is a new word, “orthorexia,” meaning “right eating.”  The National Eating Disorders Association defines it as “fixation on righteous eating.” [Read more...]

Epiphany as both theological and literary term

Today is Epiphany, a day and a season in the church year that I especially appreciate, old English teacher that I am, since the name is both a theological and a literary term.  I explain that after the jump in a post from four years ago. [Read more...]

Happy Circumcision & Name of Jesus Day!

I hope you had a big celebration last night and stayed up past midnight to see in the big holiday today.  Namely, the commemoration of the circumcision and naming of Jesus, a ceremony that took place one week after His birth.  To honor the occasion–and, oh, yes, it’s also New Year’s Day, isn’t it?–I am reposting something I wrote back in 2009:

Today is. . . the ancient feast celebrating The Circumcision and Name of Jesus. The week after Christmas, the Christchild was circumcised, thus taking upon Himself the fulfillment of the Law, a rite in which He was also officially given His name.

“Jesus” means “God saves” (literally, to put it even stronger, “YHWH saves”). Notice how the very name of Jesus attests to His divinity and to the Gospel.

Several years ago, we went to church on New Years Day and heard one of the most memorable sermons on the Name of Jesus. The pastor went through the different places in the Bible that talks about doing things “in the name of Jesus,” then bringing in the meaning of that name, that God saves. We are told to pray in the name of Jesus, because “God saves” gives us full access to the Father. When even two or three meet in the name of Jesus, He is with them, because “God saves” makes a new kind of worship possible. Disciples could cast out demons in Jesus’ name; that is, in the reality that “God saves.” At the name of Jesus, “God saves,” every knee shall bow and every tongue that Jesus is LORD. (Try that correlation yourself in your own devotions.)

via The Name of Jesus.

This is also a fitting contemplation for  the new year ahead.  So happy New Year’s, everybody!  May 2015 be a good and blessed year for all of you!.


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