Thursday, May 28, 2009

Movie Night: Taken

A couple of weeks ago, when it first came out on DVD, we saw the Liam Neeson action film, Taken. I really liked it! I liked it so much I watched it twice. It's the story of a father trying to recover his daughter when she goes abroad with a friend and is kidnapped in Paris. Or, as Imdb summarizes, a former spy tries to save his estranged daughter.

He's initially portrayed as a somewhat down and out middle-aged dad, the cast off husband and father replaced by this "successful" rich guy who can provide wife and daughter everything. Then little by little you learn about his spy activities and the fact that he was/is very good at them. I love that kind of storyline. Beyond that, the plot is fairly straightforward as these things go, you just don't know the details of where things are going to go. Some reviews complained it was predictable or had plot holes, but I didn't really notice and probably don't care, either.

What I liked, especially, is that Neeson's Bryan Mills seemed to be more Bond than Bond was in Quantum of Solace. Maybe it's just because I cut my teeth on Sean Connery, and almost all the others have seemed like imposters (well, except for Pierce Brosnan). What I loved about Connery's Bond was the way he always seemed to be one step ahead of his adversaries. He thought things out, he noticed things, he prepared. And he was very good at what he did. So you're sitting there thinking, "Oh no! This is terrible. How will he ever deal with this?" Only to find out he had it all in hand.

That's the way Bryan Mills was.

I also couldn't help thinking that the movie was a great metaphor for God and His children. The lengths He'll go to save us... and I don't mean just initial salvation, but to deliver us from our own stupid decisions. The focus, the determination, the fact that overall the daughter really doesn't appreciate Him -- she says she does, but it's clearly superficial. She has no understanding of who he is really, and yet he comes through for her. In fact, in the end

*** SPOILER!***




In the end she marvels,"You came for me." And he says, "I said I would."

And isn't that how it is for us waaay too many times? We get all worried and concerned and anxious and then He always comes through. And we're amazed. And then, not long after... it's back to our worldly toys and focus. But it doesn't change His love. Or His faithfulness.


Monday, May 25, 2009

The Hunt for Bin Laden

Over the weekend, I finally finished Robin Moore's The Hunt for Bin Laden -- Task Force Dagger (2003), which I bought in hard cover not long after it came out because it not only looked interesting (I'd read a review) but because I thought it might be a fun source of light research for The Enclave. Moore, "the first and only civilian ever allowed to go through the grueling Special Forces qualification course at Fort Bragg" is the author of The Green Berets.

The book covers the first engagement in American's War on Terror: the special forces twelve-man teams that infiltrated into different strategic areas of Afghanistan shortly after Sept 11, 2001 and aided the Northern Alliance in its battle against the Taliban. Sixty-two days later, with the liberation of Kabul, the campaign was over and won. A group of only a few hundred men had decisively defeated an enemy force of one hundred thousand. The book takes you right into the heat of battle, from the eyes of the Green Berets who fought it, and shares the successes and the foibles of their effort.

Unfortunately, it was only as I was looking up the Amazon url for this review that I discovered some of it was made up. Not by Robin Moore, but by one of his sources, Jack Idema (refered to in the book sometimes as the mysterious Jack and others as Keith Idema) who apparently did extensive editing on the ms Moore and his co-writer produced. This Jack claimed to be a Green Beret, and while he was apparently accepted into the program, he ended up being kicked out. There are all sorts of one-star reviews at Amazon, decrying the book, including one which claimed Moore has since disavowed the book. Not wanting to rely solely on Amazon reviewers, I investigated further...

Wikipedia confirms the controversy and also that Moore has disavowed the book. Citing Robert Young Pelton's book, Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror, the article states, "Though [the Special Forces soldiers] never met or talked to Idema, and despite the fact that almost ten members had carefully detailed their actions to Moore at K2, the first chapter puts forth an account of the team's infill into Afghanistan that the men tell me has been entirely fabricated."

Nor was it just Moore he snookered. Apparently he spent a good deal of time conning a lot of people in the press as the Wikipedia article documents, including Dan Rather (that probably wasn't all that hard). Idema was convicted in 2004 of running a private Afghan prison and torturing Afghani's, but even before that he had a long history of crime.

That'll teach me to buy a book and take years to get around to reading it. Now I'm wondering if any of it is valid.

Probably some of it is, at least on the general level. One of the things that I was most struck by was how the SF guys would get into position on the ground and then call in the air support -- bombers, fighters, gunships, etc -- is probably ... Since I have a few friends who work on various weapons systems (as does my hubby) it was cool to see how it all works in action.

However, this revelation does explain the sometimes almost incoherent writing, and the weird episodes with "Jack". Though I'm told that Jack rewrote the manuscript in order to give himself a greater role, he failed in that attempt. The parts that centered on him seemed out of left field, having nothing to do with the rest of what was going on. He's the incredible young recruit who loved Moore's ballad The Green Beret and read the book which led him into becoming a Green Beret himself. Later, as "Keith Idema," he appears as the "retired" Green Beret savior of the National Geographic documentary maker Gary Scurka (with whom he'd actually entered the country); still later, he's the legendary superspy/soldier/advisor to the NA in Afghanistan... "Are there many men who call themselves Jack?" Moore supposedly muses, "Or is there only one incredible guy?" There's even an Epilog, all about Jack, which is really out of left field. I read it wondering, "Who is this guy? Why are you telling me about him sitting around in this bar lamenting the loss of the war and ruminating on how great he is? I don't recall him doing anything to speak off in the rest of the narrative..."

So, it's too bad. Lies infiltrate truth and the whole is tainted. After the controversy, publisher Random House quietly let it go out of print and the whole book died into obscurity. But it's also an excellent illustration of how the cosmic system works. Satan loves to take the truths of God and infiltrate them with lies. Just a few and then you don't know what is true and what is not, or you've gotten pointed off in the wrong direction, operating on assumptions that are false, while they seem true...

There are some other books to read about the war, and I may, but right now I still have some books on my shelf. But maybe I'd better check their Amazon entries before I start reading...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Fallen, Not Forgotten

The song leader at Grace Bible Church has for some years sung a song for occasions like Memorial Day that I absolutely love. It always brings tears to my eyes, so I thought it would be a good one to put up this year. I went looking and found a YouTube video performed by the writer of the song, Ray Boltz. It's embedded below (for Feedblitz subscribers, you'll have to go to the website to access it. Just click on the title of this this post "Fallen, Not Forgotten" or "Writing from the Edge") Here are the Lyrics:

Fallen Not Forgotten
Words by Ray Boltz

He stood beside his daddy
And watched the solders marching by
It was Veteran's Day and he wondered
Why there were tears in daddy's eyes
Later they laid flowers
Beside a monument of stone
He said, My daddy went to fight
And didn't make it home

Fallen, not forgotten
He was a hero
He stood so tall
And forever, we will remember
With honor and glory,
He gave his all

They left behind their families
And the towns where they were born
For the rice paddies of Vietnam
And the sands of Desert Storm
They were soldiers in Korea
And World War One
And World War Two
They paid the price
Some gave their lives
And they fought for me and you

Fallen, not forgotten
They were the heroes
Who stood so tall
And forever, we will remember
With honor and glory,
They gave their all

Now freedom is a blessing
But freedom has a price
And we must remember those
Who paid it with their lives

Remember the
Fallen, not forgotten
They were the heroes
Who stood so tall
And forever, we will remember
With honor and glory,
They gave their all


1998 Shepherd Boy MusicASCAP (adm. by Word, Inc., a division of Word Music) and Weedom

If this isn't working, try this link.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Biblical Literalism

Wikipedia defines Biblical literalism as
"the interpretation or translation of the explicit and primary sense of words in the Bible. A literal, Biblical interpretation is associated with the fundamentalist and evangelical hermeneutical approach to Scripture, and is used by most conservative Christians today. The essence of this approach focuses upon the author's intent as the primary meaning of the text. Literal interpretation does place emphasis upon the referential aspect of the words or terms in the text. It does not, however, mean a complete denial of literary aspects, genre, or figures of speech within the text (e.g., parable, allegory, simile, or metaphor). Also literalism does not necessarily lead to total and complete agreement upon one single interpretation for any given passage."

"...Sociologists also use the term in reference to conservative Christian beliefs which include not just literalism but also inerrancy."
Yup. That's what I believe and how I approach the Bible. In fact, I don't know why you would approach it any other way. Either it's the Word of God to us and meant to be taken seriously, or it's not. And if it's not, why waste your time with it?

The Wikipedia article also says that,
"Often the term Biblical literalism is used as a pejorative to describe or ridicule the interpretative approaches of fundamentalist or evangelical Christians."
Which I didn't know. I do know that when I was writing The Enclave, particularly when I was in Reinhardt's viewpoint, I kept thinking how in literature the voices of particular groups of people are prized. The voice of a person growing up poor and black. The voice of an Asian immigrant. The voice of a Muslim, of a Jew, of an immigrant Irishman. These are prized. Why not the voice of a Christian who takes the Bible seriously and literally and builds his life upon it, then? Isn't that another, different voice? Well, it may be different, but I'm pretty sure it's not prized.

Given who runs this world today, and forms the general world view of our culture, that's no surprise. Even in Jesus's day, He warned us:

"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you." John 15:18,19
That final line of the PW review says, "Visionary fiction is a narrow niche, and the Christian biblical literalism driving key action in the plot won’t do much to enlarge the audience."

In other words, don't say what you really think and what you really believe if you want to have any readers. Well, then, maybe I won't have any, because what would be the point of writing at all if I didn't proclaim God's Truth as I understand and believe it? What would be the point of writing if I sought to hide my light under a bushel for fear of turning someone off? If you write about God, about Jesus, about the Truth, you are going to turn someone off. Guaranteed.

We are told as writers to write what we know, what we're passionate about, what we believe to be true, to write from our experience and from our own souls. To set down what we really think and stop trying to hide it, stop trying to beat around the bush for fear of being criticized or of offending someone. I agree with that. But I also know that if you do that, you may pay a price. A number of writers have. Salman Rushdie comes to mind. Solzhenitsyn. Watchman Nee. They paid a lot heftier of a price than just failing to build their readership (and for that I can give thanks that I live in America!). Still, I have to go back to why I'm doing this at all, and it's because God's called me to do it. Come what may.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Enclave - A Review

The Enclave received its first review on Monday, from Publisher's Weekly. This is a big deal, I guess. I'm not exactly sure why, because I don't think many readers read Publisher's Weekly, or PW as it's known. But I guess booksellers do and reviewers and such, so if your book gets reviewed -- well or poorly -- it's regarded as a good thing. Arena's mostly favorable review in PW prompted Bethany House to ask if I had any more books in the works and led to them buying the Legends of the Guardian King series before Arena itself had ever even released to the general public.

The Enclave's review, alas, was mostly negative, as you can see:

The Enclave Karen Hancock. Bethany House, $14.99 paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-7642-0328-2

Hancock has cleaned up at the Christy Awards for excellence in Christian fiction with four previous visionary novels (most recently, Shadow over Kiriath), but this one falls short. Researcher Lacey McHenry has a lowly position at the cutting edge Kendall-Jakes Longevity Institute, where a peculiar intruder sets off a complex chain of events that draws together McHenry and researcher Cameron Reinhardt— a man with a powder keg of a past—as the two try to solve the riddles that keep cropping up in their workplace. Hancock has a plot so complicated that a lot of elements are unsatisfactorily resolved or are simple red herrings: Lacey’s abusive ex-husband, a host of intriguing but underdeveloped secondary characters, military action in Afghanistan that is part of Reinhardt’s past. Narrative energy instead goes to didacticism: Reinhardt, an evangelical Christian, argues with his fellow scientists about evolution in an episode that’s more polemic than dramatic. Visionary fiction is a narrow niche, and the Christian biblical literalism driving key action in the plot won’t do much to enlarge the audience. (July)"

I had to look up "didacticism" and "polemic." Though I had a general idea what they meant, I wasn't sure in the specific. Didacticism means "the instructional quality of something, such as a piece of writing," which I'm not sure is a bad thing, really. Not that I ever sit down intending to instruct my readers. I mostly try to express the thoughts of my characters as they come to me...

Polemic means "containing or expressing passionate and strongly worded argument against or in favor of somebody or something." Its usage in the review I found simply odd, since the only people who were fired up in that relatively brief scene between Reinhardt and his fellow scientists, were the fellow scientists. Reinhardt was nervous and distracted... So I'm not sure where that comment is coming from.

But then the PW reviewer of Arena worried that the book's "many rapes" and "occasional stomach turning descriptions" (one, which was provided there in the review) were going to put off Christian readers. It took me some time to figure out they meant the rapes of secondary characters which happened offstage, far from the protagonist in place and time...

I hesitated in posting this. What if it makes readers of my blog leery of reading the book? At the same time, I'm kind of amazed at how much it's not bothering me. It has, however, prompted a couple of lines of thought, which I'll pursue tomorrow and next week.

That last line about "the Christian biblical literalism driving key action in the plot" not building the audience for visionary fiction (or, assumedly, for The Enclave) was of particular interest, especially after I looked up "Biblical Literalism." But more on that tomorrow.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Quote of Note: Admiration and Liars

"The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth." ~H.L. Mencken


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Islam -- war, peace and deceit

As I was writing the last post on torture, specifically the part about how the (3) detainees who were waterboarded were told beforehand that they would not be drowned yet still gave up valuable information about planned terrorist attacks, it occurred to me that maybe they did so because they didn't believe their interrogators. That is, they didn't believe the part about not being killed.

The reason I thought this is because back in March I'd read an article by Raymond Ibrahim at Victor Davis Hanson's Private Papers entitled War and Peace — and Deceit — in Islam. In 2001/2002 my pastor did a series on Islam, quoting liberally from the Koran so I was aware of the passages allowing Muslims to lie to Christians and Jews if need be (Sura 4:29) and breaking a treaty with Infidels if the situation warrants. Dr. Ibrahim's article expounded on this subject, adding greater insight into just how much lying is interwoven into their worldview and their politics. Using not only the words of Allah (Koran) and the Prophet (the Hadith) he also consults Islam's greatest theologians (the ulema) for their assessment.

All of this revolves around the doctrine of taqiyya. Ibrahim cites the "authoritative Arabic text, Al-Taqiyya fi Al-Islam:

"Taqiyya [deception] is of fundamental importance in Islam. Practically every Islamic sect agrees to it and practices it. We can go so far as to say that the practice of taqiyya is mainstream in Islam, and that those few sects not practicing it diverge from the mainstream. … Taqiyya is very prevalent in Islamic politics, especially in the modern era,"
The Koran forbids a Muslim making friends with Christians or Jews, unless if he is in a position of weakness or minority, in which case it's okay to pretend to be friends, just as long as he continues to harbor animosity in his heart.

Muhammad, who is regarded by his followers as the most perfect human of all and worthy of emulation, lied when it served him. And, in fact, Ibrahim says,

"it bears mentioning that the entire sequence of Koranic revelations is a testimony to taqiyya; and since Allah is believed to be the revealer of these verses, he ultimately is seen as the perpetrator of deceit — which is not surprising since Allah himself is described in the Koran as the best "deceiver" or "schemer" (3:54, 8:30, 10:21)."

Which I think gives a great clue as to "Allah's" true identity:
John 8:44 "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies"
It's a longish article, substantial portions of which were part of Mr. Ibrahim's written testimony to Congress this last February (2009). I found it easy to read and compelling, because it made me realize that the Muslim mind and the western mind -- particularly the western Christian mind -- are radically different. How can you ever enter into a treaty with a people whose god instructs them to lie to you if you're an Infidel, and whose central goal is not simply to live their lives and worship as they choose, but to fight all non-Muslims until everyone in the world either converts or submits to Islam? (Sura 8:39, 9:5, 9:29)

Here's the link again: War and Peace — and Deceit — in Islam . Read it!


Thursday, May 14, 2009


I'm sorry, but I'm having a hard time taking this whole torture kerfluffle seriously. Slapping someone's face? Putting them in a small space with an insect? (and interrogators weren't even allowed to make them think it was a stinging insect). The attention grasp? Simulating drowning after telling the terrorist prisoner that they aren't going to actually be drowned? Please. Anyone who's watched 24 knows what torture is.

House Speaker Pelosi admits to having been briefed that waterboarding was a technique that was used, and had been approved by the "Bush (Boo! Hiss! Yowl! Shriek!) Administration" lawyers, but said she didn't know anyone had actually used it! Um... so why did she think they were briefing her, then? Why did she think they wanted her to know they were approved in doing this to gain important intelligence about upcoming plots from high level terrorists? She was the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and she doesn't know what's going on with the interrogations? (I wrote this post last week, and it's come out now from the CIA briefers that they told her specifically her about procedures that had already been used on Abu Zubaydah...And she's still denying it...)

In reading The Hunt for Bin Laden yesterday, I happened to come across a definition of actual torture. (leave aside the beheadings and all that which the Taliban were perpetrating on the Afghani's) After several successful campaigns wherein the Taliban fighters had surrendered in the thousands, they were being held in a place called Qala-i-Jagi or "Fortress of War." Robin Moore, the author, describes it as something that "could have been a huge castle and its defenses transplanted from central Europe...surrounded by mud-brick walls up to ten meters thick, [with] moats, ramparts and walls almost twenty feet high with parapets across the top."

Two undercover CIA operatives were sorting through the various "detainees," many of whom unbeknownst to the operatives had been able to smuggle weapons into their prison situation on account of the fact that the Northern Alliance victors did not like to touch their enemies and thus didn't search them very well. They also expected them to follow the cultural protocol of not fighting back once they'd given up. But the al Quaida terrorists held allegiance to a standard that superseded local cultural norms and there was an uprising. One of the CIA guys, Mike Spann, was captured.

Moore describes his death thus:

Spann's body would bear out the worst of the rumors -- he had been captured alive and tortured by the AQ. Both of his legs had been broken below the knees in a typical al-Qaida torture method. What was not reported was that he had been alive for quite some time after. Two bullets had been placed in the small of his back, on either side of his spine. A final bullet, which killed him, had been inflicted some time later, in the back of his neck, probably as he knelt down with his hands tied behind his back.

That was al-Qaida. Power Line blog posted a link to a Times Online article about a video of an Abu Dhabi Prince (one of 22 royal princes) shown
"mercilessly and repeatedly beating a man with a cattle prod and a nailed board, burning his genitals and driving his Mercedes over him several times."
He did this because he thought the man had cheated him in a grain deal.

People who would do these sorts of things can only be laughing at us for our handwringing over the benign activities we've engaged in to extract valuable information from vicious, violent men. Ann Coulter's two columns, here and here, discuss our "terrible" deeds in amusing detail. As PowerLine blogger John Hinderaker concluded in his post on the Abu Dhabi prince,
"These are the people Barack Obama thinks will be impressed by his repudiation of one of the most effective terrorism-fighting tactics used by the Bush administration. I think, rather, that they'll conclude he's a fool."


Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Well, I was going to post something coherent, but I've just finished watching the season finale to Lost and my brain feels a bit like the final screen: white and blank. As my husband said, like all the season finales we once again have no idea what happened. Where they all blown up? Or was it another time shift?

I vote for a time shift. I want Daniel Faraday back! I want Juliette and Sawyer together... I'm loving all the ambiguity, the elements that parallel divine decrees, the talk of destiny, the way everyone is so woven into each others' lives in ways they don't even begin to understand. The relationship between Jack and his dad, whose name is Christian... is that accidental? I don't think so. I love whatever's going on with Jacob and that other guy... the beach guy, whoever he is. And how Jacob went about more or less sowing corruption. Except for the time when he brought Locke back to life... or did he? I love what they're doing with Ben. And Locke!

And I especially love that next season is the last and everyone knows it and it's part of the plan...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This is the Last Evolution Post

For awhile at least. Really. I mean it this time. I don't care what comes up to entice me to go on, I am done with this subject.

But... I keep feeling led to post this one last bit of reflection relative to the whole evolution thing. It's something I wrote after reading Fossil Hunter, but wasn't going to put up, seeing as I'd already put up enough. But then... I found this article in the Washington Post by Kathleen Parker on An Evolution for Evangelicals.

It tells about Francis Collins, an evangelical Christian, home-schooled until the sixth grade and the physician-geneticist in charge of the Human Genome Project for the NIH. Though later in the article he is also said to have been an atheist, believing only what science could prove, so I would guess he was one of those to leave the home school environment only to be shocked to discover that the world is far older than they were taught, encounter the theory of evolution and lose his faith. Subsequent wrestling with various life questions brought him back to God, his "mission" now to let people know that one can believe in science and God, but that belief in God doesn't preclude believing in evolution. "[h]aving earned a PhD and a medical degree, Collins is nonetheless a scientist with little patience for those who insist that evolution is just a theory that one may take or leave. Most human genes, he points out, are similar to genes in other mammals, "which indicates a common ancestry."

I would note 1) he's a physician/geneticist, not a paleontologist.

And 2) the fact that human genes are similar to genes in other mammals doesn't necessarily indicate a common ancestry. Mammals are similar. We have hair, four limbs, skin, warm blood, produce live births, feed our young with breast milk... why wouldn't the information for those characteristics be similar? The similarity of genetics between forms is no different than the similarity of observable physical (phenotypical) characteristics. Neither prove anything about ancestry.

But enough of Collins. He was only the prod that got me thinking about the whole thought process involved here... to wit:

You have a collection of items, creatures. They may be radically different. A modern whale, say, and also a “putative” or alleged ancestor, the pakicetid, which was a carnivorous land animal. You have only the skeletons to work with. If the task is to determine the order in which they are related, then it seems to me that you have to already have the idea in place that these all “evolved” not the other way around.

But what if they aren’t related? What if they didn’t lead one to another? Then you are going to be looking at them and seeing similarities and reach a false conclusion.

Instead of seeing the incredible variety of God’s creation, instead of seeing the amazing design involved, instead of seeing how each organism has its own unique habitat and ecology, you instead see only what you are trying to see.

Furthermore, you want this to be true for many reasons: everyone around you that you respect say that it’s true; you will be impugned and cast out if you don’t agree; the force of all these people over a couple hundred years having looked at the data and agreeing that it’s true must make it so; you desire to look intelligent, not like an ignoramus; you need for grant money if you are to continue working; you see no reasonable alternative; you have no desire to really believe what God’s word says over what the world and man’s reason says… Therefore, you insist upon evaluating the data from the accepted, preconceived standpoint.

Even if the data doesn’t really support it. Pakicetids are believed to be the ancestors of modern whales based on three things unique to whales: 1) peculiarities in the positioning of the ear bones in the skulls, 2) the folding in a bone in the middle ear, and 3) the arrangement of cusps on the molar teeth. (Wikipedia)

“The current theory is that modern whales evolved from archaic whales such as the basilosaurids which in turn evolved from something like the amphibious ambulocetids, which themselves evolved from something like the land-dwelling pakicetids.” (Wikipedia) (But look at the language used in that sentence: “such as,” “something like,” “which themselves evolved from something like.” Could it be more hypothetical?)

These are based on I don’t know how many finds in particular locations … dated by the geologic or radio carbon metric…. on, of course, the assumptions that carbon has always decayed at the same rate as it does today.

So first you assume that the dating method that arrives at an age of billions of years is accurate, though no one has any way of proving that it is. No way of confirming it, watching it real time. No way of knowing if things were very different than they are now, but assuming they were not.

Then you assume that these creatures lead one to the other because they occur in different strata that are assigned to particular dates and if one is earlier than the other then you fill in the blanks of how the earlier changed into the later, using computers modeling a gradual line of genetic change based on rate of mutation. [They use computer models to predict global warming, too…]

Even though the fossil record shows no intermediaries, but rather sudden explosions of new organisms. Never mind about that, they say. The intermediaries just didn’t leave any fossils. But they were there. Believe us. We are experts…We are Scientists and Scientists know.

So everyone dutifully assumes these all lead one to the other and they just have to figure out what order they’re in. So they strive and scrape and bend and ignore the actual evidence to come up with “supposed” evolutionary patterns that “prove” it’s true.

How can a “supposed” anything prove something?

Because people want it to, because other people say loudly, forcibly and frequently that it does and denigrate any that say otherwise. In Expelled, Richard Dawkins said, “Anyone who doesn’t believe in evolution is either stupid, ignorant or insane.” (There. Now he doesn’t have to grapple with the actual issues because he’s destroyed the credibility of those who advance them by calling them names.) Lots of different scientists throw different scientific talk and jargon at the subject of evolution, that are actually irrelevant if you consider it, calling their beliefs “objective” while any other viewpoint is not. Especially one that includes God in the picture.

I so clearly see the great Deceiver in all this. The arrogance of man in it… It’s a grand deceit. Masterful, really, getting people all involved in did God really say that He created things in seven days? That seems a bit ridiculous. Given what we know, and we are so wise. We are clever. God just doesn’t want us to think that, because He’s afraid we’ll get to the truth and the truth is, He doesn’t exist. Or He does, but He can’t make himself clear in His word.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Movie Night: Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

Well, I thought my evolution posts were completed, but apparently not. I've been wanting to see Ben Stein's Expelled:No Intelligence Allowed ever since I heard about it. (It's plugged on the back of Fossil Hunter). This is a documentary in which the comedian Ben Stein investigates the closed mindedness of academia with regard to the proposition that there was an Intelligent Designer behind the workings of nature. It started when he learned of respected scientists in academia losing their jobs and their careers because they happened to mention Intelligent Design in the course of a slide show, an article, or a paper. Not promoting it per se, just entertaining the idea.

Darwin Forbid that anyone should do such a thing! Everyone knows that, as evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins says in the movie, anyone who don't believe in evolution is either stupid, ignorant or insane. The case is closed. There is no debate because there's nothing to debate.

It was fascinating to see and hear some of the people I've read quotes from, like Dawkins, to see their close-mindedness, their absolute confidence in the correctness of their opinion even when it is ridiculous. Pressed to provide an explanation for how life came to be Dawkins skittered about, hemmed and hawed and settled on the possibility of panspermia -- that is, that aliens brought it here. Which, of course, just pushes the question back to how did the aliens acquire life. "And this," Stein asked, "you find more reasonable than the possibility of an intelligent designer?"

And he did. Although I think at one point in his floundering around, he came around to half agreeing that there probably was an intelligent designer, even as he denied there was. His agenda was obvious. He read from his most recent book The God Delusion, a description of the God of the Old Testament that was worthy of Satan himself. How he was incapable of seeing the very great mercy and grace of God toward his constantly rebellious people is ... evidence of the truth of 2Co 4:3,4 "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."

It's a very interesting movie and they make it entertaining by interspersing old movie footage of relevant actions into the interviewing. It also draws a correlation between Darwinism and the Nazi's which has a number of critics all hot and bothered. In addition to the fact that it not only proposes an alternative to evolution but dares to accuse the evolutionists in academia of not allowing debate on the matter...

"A shameful antievolution film tries to blame Darwin for the Holocaust," says a reviewer for Scientific American.

An entire website devoted to disparaging the movie called Expelled Exposed says that Ben Stein flunks and that he doesn't tell you that Intelligent Design is really creationism and therefore not science. (I think there might be such a thing as Creationism Derangement Syndrome, because apparently all you have to do is assign someone the label of Creationist and they cease to matter.)

Human Events uses the release of the movie to raise the question of whether Intelligent Design is really a scientific theory.

Michael Shermer, a renowned skeptic and one of the interviewees for the film, addressed this accusation in an article in Scientific American, stating "Anyone who thinks that scientists do not question Darwinism has never been to an evolutionary conference. ... It is perfectly okay to question Darwinism (or any other ism in science), as long as there is a way to test your challenge. Intelligent Design creationists, by contrast, have no interest in doing science at all." (And once again, they don't have to engage with the ideas because they can just say the ID creationists aren't doing science. And the evolutionists are???)
The Wikipedia entry seems to have been written by the same crowd, with the overview of the article listing such sub-sections as:

Promotion of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution

Claims that intelligent design advocates are persecuted

Portrayal of science as atheistic (It didn't -- there were plenty of dedicated scientists who were not atheists -- but it did show direct evidence of how Darwinism supposedly led some people to lose their faith)

Claims that Nazism was inspired by acceptance of evolution

The "Expelled" (with quotation marks so you'll know they weren't really... except they were)

Claims that film producers misled interviewees

Copyright controversies


Unlike the Wiki entry on Evolution where there are no criticisms or alternative ideas noted, on this entry it's almost all criticism. Why am I not surprised?

Here's the trailer.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Evolution Posts Wrap Up

Well, finally I've come to the end of the words that reading Fossil Hunter inspired in me. It's been an interesting journey.

In the course of looking up sources and answering some email questions, I learned that it's not that the Young Earth creationists (those who believe that there was no sin before Adam and the earth and heavens were created, rather than renovated, in the six days of Genesis) don't know about the Gap between verse 1 and verse 2, it's that they don't agree with it.

In fact, someone sent me a link to a guy giving a presentation on Young Earth creationism who early on in his talk just threw the Gap "theory" out the window as both "unscriptural and unscientific." Having spent the morning going through all the scriptures in support of the notion of a Gap of time between "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" and "And the earth was formless and void" and thus more convinced than ever that it is the only thing that makes sense of the different verses, I was not impressed. And even annoyed. I didn't like his tone either. And hey, I don't have a lot of time so I decided to turn him off right then. Maybe I'll listen later, because apparently he does have some interesting things to say.

Curiosity sent me Googling him, and then the Gap Theory, the latter quite interesting. For one, I had no idea that us Gap Theorists' main reason for supporting it is because science says the earth is old and we are trying to make the Bible fit with what science said. I also didn't know that it was, in the 19th and early 20th centuries a very common interpretation of Genesis and prehistoric events. Even more interesting was the fact that the Wikipedia article cited Donald Barnhouse, C.I. Scofield and Lewis Sperry Chafer as its chief proponents -- all of whom were also proponents of Dispensations.

But then those two subjects do intersect quite closely. Anyway, from there I went on to Answers in Genesis, a website that purports to explain beginnings and is very disparaging of the Gap theory. I read a bit of that, but found their objections to be based on faulty premise after faulty premise that eventually I just gave up on that as well. When someone starts out with their very first objection and you don't agree with the first sentence they write... you're in trouble.

Anyway, I might do a blog post or two on it, if the Lord leads in that direction. But not tonight...

It's been a busy week. I've taken my mother to doctor's appointments for three mornings straight. And I've been focusing on getting home tasks done as a priority -- back to using Flylady's system, more or less. Mending things, cleaning out the refrigerator, taking my wedding ring to get the prongs put back in place so I can wear it again, starting back up at the Y, washing mini blinds and trimming the edges of the grass...

I've been reading another book, too: The Hunt for Bin Laden by Robin Moore. This one's nonfiction, about the the invasion of Afghanistan right after 911. That's been very interesting.

So tomorrow our three-day weekend begins. Hope yours is a good one! And Happy Mother's Day to all my readers who are Moms!

The painting is mine...

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Quote of Note: Evolution Postscript

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

"For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

"Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen." ~~~ Rom 1:18-25


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Result of the Theory of Evolution

My final thought in this series of posts on evolution is to step back and ask what has the theory of evolution resulted in? The greater worship and appreciation of God? I don't think so.

John B. Olson's Fossil Hunter, the book that started all these posts, begins one of its sections with a quote from Darwin himself in his The Origin of Species:

"I see no good reason why the views given here in this volume should shock the religious feelings of anyone. It is satisfactory, as showing how transient such impressions are, to remember that the greatest discovery ever made by man -- namely the law of the attraction of gravity -- was also attacked by Leibnitz, "as subversive of natural, and inferentially, of revealed religion." A celebrated author and divine has written to me that "he has gradually learnt to see that it is just as noble a conception of the Deity to believe that He created a few original forms capable of self-development into other and needful forms, as to believe that He required a fresh act of creation to supply the voids caused by the action of His laws."
Well, that is one full statement that provokes considerable objections in my thinking. First of all, the fact that someone attacked a true law as being subversive of religion doesn't make everything attacked as subversive true. So it's a specious argument.

Second, it is not by any means just as noble to think that God created "a few original forms capable of self-development into other and needful forms" as that He provided everything at an instant. The former goes against not only His character and general policy, but the whole reason we're here at all -- which isn't to "self-develop". In fact, we are totally and completely incapable of developing anything in ourselves that is worth anything long term. The entire statement betrays an ignorance of who God is and how He deals with us. God doesn't give us a little and tell us to go out and figure out the rest. We're depraved. We're a mess. We're hopeless and helpless without Him.

"So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs but on God who has mercy. " Ro 9:16

He is the one who will fulfill His will, not us. All we're called to do is learn who He is, then trust and obey Him.

Darwin's statement shows a break from the mindset of grace and the need for salvation to something closer to religion. (Religion being defined for this discussion as man by his own efforts seeking to do something to earn salvation or blessing from God. Jesus did it all. For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves lest any man should boast.) The whole idea that God left His creation to develop itself on its own contradicts who He is. Transcendent, omnipresent, omnipotent, sovereign, all knowing, aware of the smallest thing that happens... the sparrow that falls to the earth, the number of hairs on our heads. He's holding everything together right now, knowingly.

The very core of Darwn's theory goes against the notion that He has provided everything needed for His creatures, and continues to do so (though what we think is needed and what He knows is needed might be two different things). In other words, it violates the grace of God.

More than that -- worse than that -- it's given people the supposed freedom to finally put God out of the picture. With a purely materialistic explanation for how everything came to be, they no longer have to consider Him, not even to give Him lip service. And once that happened, God was pushed further and further out of public life and culture.

Science has produced many wonderful things to make our lives better and more comfortable. It offers areas for careers that are quite lucrative. But to partake in those you must believe in evolution. Or at least not openly disbelieve. It's a given. On college campuses it is taught as fact and the opposing view is not allowed. The data, such as there is, are manipulated to support it, and the whole idea of free inquiry and pursuit of the truth has been corrupted by it.

Evolution tells us that we are here on our own. That we need to evolve. That we can do it, we can make the world a better place. Heaven on earth. No more death, no more war, no more disease... the seeds of that all lie in its self-help template. Evolution is about creatures getting the credit for their existence, for their shape and form. Or, put another way, in evolution the focus is on the creatures. On how they developed, how they responded to the environment, adapted, evolved "to form other and needful supply the voids caused by the action of His laws."

Creation focuses on the Creator. He's greater than we are. He made us and everything in the material world and we don't really know how He did it. But we are going to worship Him because He made us and provided this place for us and sustains us every single day. More than that, He sent His son to die for us so that whoever believes in Him should have eternal life with Him forever.

There are no voids in anything God does. The only void lies with us, in our evil, ignorant thinking and our sick, deceitful heads, thinking we can be like God, knowing good and evil...


Monday, May 04, 2009

Evolution isn't Science

Evolution isn't science.

It might be philosophy, which, according to Wikipedia, is "the study of general problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, truth, beauty, law, justice, validity, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing these questions (such as mysticism or mythology) by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on reasoned argument."

Or it might be religion, which describes as "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs."

On further thought, I think it's more religion than philosophy since it specifically purports to answer the cause, nature and purpose of the universe.

In any case, it is not science, which is, again according to Wikipedia, a system of acquiring knowledge based on scientific method, and the organized body of knowledge gained through such research. "To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses."

In other words, you gather some data through first hand observation, consider it and devise a hypothesis to explain something about what is observed -- how it works, what causes the reaction, etc. Then you conduct controlled experiments to test the hypothesis and arrive at a conclusion. Should you conclude that HCL + NAOH will always equal salt (NaCL) and water (H2O) others should be able to perform the same experiment and produce the same results, independently verifying the experiment and the conclusion.

Evolution is none of this. No one has ever observed a progression wherein a fish's offspring eventually became frogs. We haven't even observed viruses mutating into anything other than another virus, and we surely haven't been able to cause any of that.

So the definition of science that I was given in school, doesn't apply to evolution and according to its proponents, that's fine. They admit it. According to evolutionists Gould and Eldredge,
"The general preference that so many of us hold for gradualism is a metaphysical stance embedded in the modern history of Western cultures: it is not a high-order empirical observation, induced from the objective study of nature.’[‘Punctuated Equilibria: The Tempo and Mode of Evolution Reconsidered,’ in Paleobiology 3 (1977), 145.]
Gould adds,
But our ways of learning about the world are strongly influenced by the social preconceptions and biased modes of thinking that each scientist must apply to any problem. The stereotype of a fully rational and objective “scientific method”, with individual scientists as logical (and interchangeable) robots, is self-serving mythology." [‘In the Mind of the Beholder,’ Natural History (February 1994), 103:14.]
The fact that the fossil record does not support the theory combined with the fact that the evolutionary process has never been observed nor replicated, means that the theory of evolution can legitimately be regarded as nothing but an unproved theory. Yet in all aspects of our culture it is presented as fact. All sorts of scientific words are associated with it, all sorts of speculations about what might have happened in terms of genes and populations and so forth... there are computer models of gene mutations that purport to predict how many years of incremental change stand between one organism and the other. And yet... it's all a house of cards.

One of the 20th century's most influential philosophers of science, Karl Popper, had it right when he wrote in his autobiography, Unended Quest,
‘I have come to the conclusion that Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research programme—a possible framework for testable scientific theories … This is of course the reason why Darwinism has been almost universally accepted. Its theory of adaptation was the first nontheistic one that was convincing; and theism was worse than an open admission of failure, for it created the impression that no ultimate explanation has been reached.’
Tomorrow: the results of the Theory


Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Record isn't There

My biggest shock in investigating the theory of evolution was learning that the fossil record I'd always been told supports evolution does not exist...

Phillip Johnson, in his book, Darwin on Trial, quotes from a well-regarded American textbook on Introductory Biology in the 1980s:

"Can more extensive evolutionary change, macroevolution, be explained as an outcome of these microevolutionary shifts? Did birds really arise from reptiles by an accumulation of gene substitutions of the kind illustrated by the raspberry eye-color gene? The answer is that it is entirely plausible, and no one has come up with a better explanation... The fossil record suggests that macroevolution is indeed gradual, paced at a rate that leads to the conclusion that it is based on hundreds or thousands of gene substitutions no different in kind from the ones examined in our case studies."
Except, says Johnson, "that last sentence is false and has long been known to paleontologists to be false."

A casual perusal of the Wikipedia entry on evolution produces only three instances where the fossil record is even discussed:

"The study of evolutionary biology began in the mid-nineteenth century, when studies of the fossil record and the diversity of living organisms convinced most scientists that species changed over time."

"Speciation events are important in the theory of punctuated equilibrium, which accounts for the pattern in the fossil record of short "bursts" of evolution interspersed with relatively long periods of stasis, where species remain relatively unchanged...

"...the periods of stasis in the fossil record correspond to the parental population, and the organisms undergoing speciation and rapid evolution are found in small populations or geographically restricted habitats, and therefore rarely being preserved as fossils..."

[This last basically says that the fossil record does NOT support the earlier statement that the "fossil record" convinced most scientists that species changed over time. If only the organisms that haven't changed are preserved, not those which are evolving, there is no support in the record, so it couldn't have been the record that convinced them!]

[I would also like to note that in every other Wiki page I've checked in the course of writing these posts, even on the Gap Theory, there's always been a sub-heading on "Criticisms". There was no such category for evolution.]

But that's only a Wikipedia article. What about the paleontologists, those scientists who are expert in the study of the fossil record and who have been diligently seeking every -- any -- instance of fossil remains that will support their theory of evolution? After all, Darwin himself stressed the fact that if his theory were true, the number of transitional inntermediaries would be "inconceivable." He was confident that the more paleontologists dug, the more intermediary fossils they would discover.

Stephen Jay Gould (prominent American paleontologist and evolutionary biologist who taught at Harvard and worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and a proponent of the alternative evolutionary theory of punctuated equilibrium) said in his Natural History article, 'Evolution's Erratic Pace,':

‘The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. . . . [T]o preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.'
Likewise, Niles Eldredge, paleontologist and Chief Curator at The American Museum Of Natural History, said in his book, The Myths of Human Evolution (1982):

"Darwin's prediction of rampant, albeit gradual, change affecting all lineages through time is refuted. The record is there, and the record speaks for tremendous anatomical conservatism. Change in the manner Darwin expected is just not found in the fossil record."
In Reinventing Darwin (1995), Eldredge said,

"Simple extrapolation does not work. I found that out back in the 1960s as I tried in vain to document examples of the kind of slow, steady directional change we all thought ought to be there, ever since Darwin told us that natural selection should leave precisely such a telltale signal as we collect our fossils up cliff faces. I found instead, that once species appear in the fossil record, they tend not to change much at all. Species remain imperturbably, implacably resistant to chance as a matter of course." (p.3)

"Stasis is now abundantly well documented as the preeminent paleontological pattern in the evolutionary history of species."(p.77)

"No wonder paleontologists shied away from evolution for so long. It seems never to happen. Assiduous collecting off cliff faces yields zigzags, minor oscillations, and the very occasional slight accumulation of change -- over millions of years, at a rate too slow to really account for all the prodigious change that has occurred in evolutionary history. When we do see the introduction of evolutionary novelty, it usually shows up with a bang and often with no firm evidence that the organisms did not evolve elsewhere! Evolution cannot forever be going on someplace else. Yet that's how the fossil record has struck many a forlorn paleontologist looking to learn something about evolution."(p.95)
Gould and Eldredge proposed an alternative theory of punctuated equilibrium, where evolution consists of long periods of stability in organism phenotype punctuated by rare explosions of new and startling collections of organisms or "evolutionary branches." This is in contrast to Darwin's idea of gradual change and attempts to reconcile the actual record.

Whether embracing punctuated equilibrium or the gradual change of Darwinism, proponents dismiss the fossil record's lack of evidence as "a result of migrational events." Or else they attribute it to the fact that all the changing organisms were on the fringe of the population center and thus were never preserved in fossilized form. I think they must be too invested in defending the theory to hear how silly that explanation sounds.

And how completely unscientific this entire evolution business is.

More on that tomorrow.

The quotes from Gould and Eldredge used here are from Stephen E. Jones's quotes database on evolution which can be found here:

The page of this database I specifically used is

This page has a mind-boggling number of quotes from all manner of sources -- Einstein, Louis Agassiz, Darwin, Dawkins, Dennett... If you're interested in what these people had to say about evolution and science in general I encourage you to check it out. It's amazing.