Logical fallacies in science

Maniac9Scientists sometimes succumb to logical fallacies.

A Norwegian scientist has written about three of them that often turn up in scientific research:

(1)  affirming the consequent

(2)  false analogy

(3) confirmation bias

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Work on Jesus’ burial site completed

Aedicule_which_supposedly_encloses_the_tomb_of_Jesus-LR1We blogged about the excavation and renovation of Jesus’ tomb at our post “See the Place Where They Laid Him.”  Now, just in time for Easter, the renovation work and the preservation of the site at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem have been completed.

The shrine had been in danger of collapse, but it has now been reinforced and protected.

When researchers opened the actual tomb, they removed a marble slab that had been put over the rock shelf on which the body of Jesus would have rested.  The slab dated from the Middle Ages. Underneath, they found yet another marble slab. This one dated from the 4th century, which would have been when Constantine’s mother Helena identified the site and built the first shrine over it.

Experts who put the site back together cut a window into the marble slabs so that the bare rock where Jesus’ body lay before His resurrection can be seen.

Photos of the restoration work are copyrighted, so go here for a bird’s eye view of where our Lord’s body was laid.

Photo of Aedicule, which encloses what is thought to be Christ’s tomb by Jlascar (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jlascar/10350934835/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Other rights are not equal to religious liberty

2519766036_d988be0058_z (1)The hearings for Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court got started.

Judge Gorsuch is so clearly qualified that it’s hard to see the basis the left will use to try to shoot down his nomination.  Evidently, the criticism will be that he rules too frequently in favor of religious liberty.  For example, he ruled in the Hobby Lobby case that the owner’s religious convictions outweigh the Obamacare mandate that female employees should be given free birth control.

Today the key assaults on religious liberty are being made in the name of other rights that are assumed to be equal to, or to outweigh the protections of the First Amendment.  Thus, the right of a customer to buy a cake for a gay wedding is often thought to deserve more consideration than the Christian baker’s qualms about participating in a ceremony that violates his or her religious convictions.

David French, a constitutional lawyer among his other talents, explains why ‘fundamental rights”–that is, inalienable rights specifically listed in the constitution–must always take priority over subsidiary rights granted by government power.

Thus religious liberty has to trump (sorry) the right to buy a wedding cake from the baker of your choice, or the right to free birth control, or the right of an atheist to hold office in a religious group, etc. [Read more…]

Trump and the FBI

agent-1294795_640FBI director James Comey told the House Intelligence Committee that an active investigation is underway into Russian involvement with the U.S. election, including whether or not there was collusion with the Trump campaign.

Comey also dismissed President Trump’s charges that the Obama administration was eavesdropping on Trump Tower.

The testimony brought back an issue that seemed to be fading, since no evidence has surfaced that Trump or any of his people conspired with the Russians.  But does the FBI have that evidence?

Nor has evidence surfaced that Trump’s campaign was bugged.  And yet the president keeps insisting that it happened anyway.  That could have been part of an FBI probe, but House and Senate investigators have found no trace of such a thing.

Democrats might feel bolstered by Comey’s testimony, but they are also angry and frustrated.  Comey said the investigation of Russian involvement in Trump’s campaign began last July.  That summer Comey revealed that Hillary Clinton was under investigation for her illegal emails.  He didn’t mention that he was also investigating Trump. [Read more…]

And now, Network Christianity

Lots of Christians supported Donald Trump, for many different reasons.  Some didn’t approve of him, but thought that he would be better than Hillary Clinton.  Some thought Trump would be more favorable to the pro-life cause.  Some thought he would be better on religious liberty.  Some thought Trump would bring more jobs, shake up the status quo, and make America great again.  Most Christians who supported him probably did so for various of these reasons.  But some apparently supported him for theological reasons.

Did you notice how a number of Pentecostal groups, particularly those influenced by TV preachers, were with Trump from the beginning and expressed no qualms about some of his questionable behavior?

According to a recent book on the subject by Brad Christerson and Richard Flory (published by Oxford University Press), there is  a new movement within Pentecostal and charismatic circles.  The authors call it “Independent Network Charismatic”–or “INC”–Christianity.  It doesn’t focus on evangelism or building congregations, nor speaking in tongues or performing miracles.  Though of course Pentecostalists and charismatics continue to care about and to practice such things, this particular strain is solely about acquiring influence.  And it is based not at all on a church, but on independent networks of leaders known as “Apostles.”

INC Christianity teaches that there are “seven mountains of culture”:  business, government, media, arts & entertainment, education, family, and religion.  The idea is that if Christians “capture” each of these mountains–that is, assume leadership in these fields–the nation’s problems will be solved and they will “bring heaven to earth.”

These Network Christians still believe in signs and wonders:  They are convinced that one of them was the election of Donald Trump, whom they consider to be God’s chosen agent to bring in the kingdom of Heaven on earth.

These are not to be confused with Dominionists or Theonomists, who are Calvinists.  Nor do they seem to be millennialists, either pre- or post-, though I could be wrong about that.  (Please enlighten me if you know.)  They are charismatics, seeing leadership in all of these areas as a sort of spiritual gift. UPDATE:  They also strike me as applying the “prosperity gospel”–which these groups also hold to–on the national level.  These leaders are part of the New Apostolic Reformation movement, which more fully accounts for their theology.

I suspect all Christians who support Trump or who are active in politics or who seek cultural impact will get tarred with this brush.  You can ascend those seven mountains–if that is your vocation–without buying into the theology behind these “networks.”  But you should be aware that this new social gospel is in the air. [Read more…]

Hail! Hail! Chuck Berry

The pioneering rock ‘n’ roll guitarist and songwriter Chuck Berry died.  He was 90 years old.

I saw him perform at his St. Louis club Blueberry Hill.  He must have been in his 80s.  But what energy he showed!  What joy!  What connection with his audience!

After the jump, a link to an obituary story that goes into detail about just what it was about his guitar playing and his songwriting that made them so good.

Also, read this interview from 1987, in which Berry confessed that his favorite kind of music is big band.  Also how he wrote from a teenager’s perspective even though he was an adult and far older than his rock musician peers such as Elvis.  And why he wasn’t bitter that white musicians like Presley and the Rolling Stones made much more money from his music than he did.

In memory of “the Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” here is a clip of him playing at Blueberry Hill in his 80’s.  Yes, his voice is about gone, but listen to him playing the guitar.  Like ringing a bell.

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