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Economics, Movie Reviews, Watch for free

Love Gov: Breaking up with government is hard to do

Here's something new: an economic argument for small government presented as a comedic drama. And Love Gov is a romance too, sort of. Alexis was thinking of quitting college to start her own business, but then she meets the strangely charming Scott Govinsky (known as "Gov" to his friends). To compliment her ideas, ambitions, and drive, Gov is so very caring and supportive. And eager to help. And he never seems to runs out of advice. Perfect material for a boyfriend? Alexis thinks so...at first. The problem is, Gov's advice isn't nearly as helpful as it seems. If you haven't figured it out yet, Alexis' boyfriend Gov is a stand-in for our government, which wants to mind our business because it cares for us so deeply. But as much as the politicians and burecrats might mean well, that doesn't mean they are doing well...which is what Love Gov tries to show. CAUTIONS The series' producer, the Independent Institute, is not a Christian organization. So, even as they are for limited government, they might be for less moral restraint too, as evidenced by the little boy at the very beginning (who has only the briefest of roles) wearing a shirt with a transgender rainbow on it. A more notable quibble: because Love Gov is humorous, some of its serious points are made in an over-the-top manner, which could prompt the cynically-inclined to discount those points entirely. So it's important to pitch this to friends properly: introduce it to them as the light-hearted discussion-starter it is, and don't present it as any sort of weighty "final word" on the issues it raises. CONCLUSION The overall argument being pitched is for smaller government. While the group pitching it isn't Christian, there's a lot here for Christians to love, since we should also support limited, and thus smaller, government. Why? Because God has given different responsibilities to different types of "government." The "governments" we're talking about here are not of the municipal, provincial, or federal sort but rather family government, Church government, and yes, State government too. We can throw in self-government as well. These types of government are all appointed by God to take on different roles, and while who should have exactly what role can sometimes be difficult to discern, one type of government can only gain more power and influence at the expense of the others. Which type of government is the most expansionist? The State. Its influence in our family life, the education of our children, regulation of business, management of healthcare, direction of the economy – that reach is already enormous. And just as the State's expansion into education came by shrinking the parental role, so too its expansion into other areas comes at the expense of other levels of "government." That's why Christians should want a limited government; because we know that God didn't intend for us and the other types of government to abandon our roles and responsibilities to the State. Another reason for a limited government? When the State takes on jobs God never intended for it they will tend to mess things up. Good intentions simply aren't enough (Prov. 27:14); a good dose of humility about what the State can do, and shouldn't even try to do is also vital. Episode 1: An education in debt (6 minutes) Alexis wants to quit school to start up a business and start paying off her student debt. Then she meets Gov, who encourages her to stay in school "because there's nothing more important  than your education." What about that student debt? Gov assures her, "You are going to have a lifetime to pay off debt...a lifetime!" The Bible likens debt to slavery (Prov. 22:7) – it limits your ability and freedom to do what you otherwise might want to do. Episode 2: Protection from jobs (5 minutes) After Alexis graduates college she decides to pursue her small business idea. Gov is, once again, happy to help, though this time coming to the "aid" of employee Libby. Regulations are brought in with the intent of protecting workers. But regulations also make it harder and more expensive to hire workers: One estimate concerning Canada's tech industry had a 1% increase in regulations leading to a 5% decrease in business startups. The tradeoffs that come with government "protections" are often overlooked. Episode 3: A rememdy for healthcare choices (6 minutes) Alexis is looking for a new healthcare insurance plan, and Gov knows best. Meanwhile, Libby argues that choices and options and free market competition could produce healthcare for less. In his documentary Wait Til It's Free, Reformed filmmaker Colin Gunn makes that same argument. Episode 4: House poor (6 minutes)  Alexis goes house-hunting and mortgage-hunting too, only to discover that Gov has been spending her money, putting her tens of thousands in debt. In Canada accumulated provincial and national debts averages out to $40,000 CAN per citizens while in the US just the national debt works out to more than double that at $80,000 US per citizen. Episode 5: Keeping a close eye on privacy (5 minutes) While Alexis and Gov aren't together anymore, he's still keeping tabs on her – breaking up with "the Gov" proves very hard to do. This series came out soon after Edward Snowden revealed that the United States' National Security Agency (NSA) had been spying on its own citizens, though generally in aggregate – it viewed all the captured data as a whole, not tying it to specific people. But Snowden also shared that should the government want to look at your specific data it could do that too after getting a judge's approval...which was always given....

Adult fiction, Book Reviews

Flags out front

A Contrarian's Daydream by Douglas Wilson 196 pages / 2017 In Flags out Front, Douglas Wilson has crafted something that is as inspirational as it is fictional. What if a Christian public figure took a stand on principle and, no matter what pressure came, just would not back down? What might happen if, instead of wilting under that pressure, or trying to avoid it, a Christian leader embraced it, and fought back fearlessly? In Flags out Front we get to find out. Tim Collins is a "mild-mannered president of a dwindling southern" Bible college who never meant to cause a fuss. But he arrives on campus one day to find a prankster has swapped a couple of the flags at the campus entrance. Now instead of the American flag flying above all, there is the Christian flag waving from on high, with the Stars and Stripes just below. Collins doesn't know quite what to think. But, upon reflection, he concludes the change is a good one and leaves it. Then the phone calls start coming. He gets calls from conservative, patriotic sorts, wondering why the American flag is not in its central place. He hears from the other side too, from those who'd be happy enough to burn the flag, but don't want to see it waving below a Christian flag. Protests to the right, threats from the left, and Collins quietly stand his ground. He's willing to do it, even if it means standing alone...but alone is one thing he's not going to be. Quiet, meek, Dr. Collins, becomes the rallying point for Christians of all sorts...including some clever college students who know how to make some noise. This is how it should be, and, maybe could be – who knows what God would do with a fearless few? Actually, we already know: it wasn't so long ago that we celebrated the 500th anniversary of the firestorm God started with one monk and his mallet. Flags out Front is a funny, clever, comedic, feel-good novel that most anyone would enjoy, particularly if you want to be inspired as to how Christians can do politics differently. I've foisted this off on a number of friends and family (and read about half of it out loud to my wife) and the response has been enthusiastic all around....

Humor, Satire, Sexuality

Are you a transkindophobe?

Doctor Clive Gledhill looked down at his watch – 4:30. Only half an hour until the surgery shut and then he could head off home for the day to his family. He looked at the screen in front of him and saw that he had just two more patients booked in. Perhaps they might give him a more interesting end to the day than what had gone before. A few cases of stomach upset and flu – that was about it, so far as he could recall. “Yes, come in,” said the doctor as he heard a tap at the door. As it opened, he looked up to greet his patient, only to find himself startled. “You wanted interesting?” thought the doctor. “Well here is interesting.” The man entering the room was perhaps the oddest looking person the doctor had ever seen. The fabric that made up all his clothes – from his shirt all the way down to his socks – consisted of a series of irregular shaped brown patches, with white lines in between, rather like a mosaic. It seemed to be patterned like some sort of animal, though for the life of him the doctor couldn’t think what. He also had this same design tattooed onto his hands. Around his neck he wore a series of metal coils – the sort of thing worn by women in the Kayan and Ndebele tribes, which is wound around the neck in order to stretch it. His arms were hung long and loose in front of him, almost as if he were trying to reach down to the floor with them. But perhaps the oddest thing of all was what he was doing with his mouth. He was chewing, but not in the way people chew gum. Rather it was a slow and ponderous action, not too dissimilar to a ruminant chewing the cud. “Come, take a seat,” said Dr. Gledhill beckoning him to sit in the chair on the opposite side of his desk. “I prefer to stand,” said the patient, moving the words around his mouth slowly as he continued to ruminate. “As you wish,” replied the doctor. “Now tell me, how can I help you today?” The oddity shifted around somewhat apprehensively. He seemed nervous and reluctant to speak at first, but the patient manner of the doctor seemed to put him at ease. “Before I tell you of my condition, I would like an assurance from you. Tell me, doctor, do you consider yourself to be a tolerant man?” “Strange question,” thought Dr. Gledhill. Nevertheless he answered in the affirmative, adding that he considered himself to be a man of some high level of tolerance. “Good,” replied the man. “And do you think yourself to be completely open and non-judgmental.” “Well, I would say that I am fairly open,” replied the doctor. “I’ve practiced medicine for nearly thirty years now and I doubt whether there is much I haven’t seen. As for non-judgmental? I don’t suppose I am any more or any less judgmental than anyone else. We’ve all got our prejudices about something or other, but I suppose I try to be as impartial as possible. Can I ask to what these questions tend?” “Yes, you may,” answered the man. “Dr. Gledhill, I have now been to no less than five doctors about my condition. Yet not one of them has taken me seriously. In fact they have all more or less ridiculed me and sent me out of their surgery. I have been humiliated and left feeling emotionally wrecked by the treatment I have received by various members of your profession. Which is why, before continuing, I seek reassurance that you will not treat me with the same derision as I have received before.” “Okay,” said Doctor Gledhill pondering the request, “I promise that I’ll be as open-minded and fair as I am able. Now, what seems to be the problem?” The patient nodded approvingly at the doctor, before walking slowly around the room. As he spoke, every so often he would stand on tiptoes, straining as if he were trying to reach high up for something. “Ever since I was a young child I have felt different,” he said. “How do you mean different?” asked the doctor. “What I mean is that even when I was a small boy, I would look around at the other boys the same age as me, and I knew I just wasn’t like them. Ever since I was about six, I knew what I really was – and it wasn’t what people thought. And the problem has never changed. In fact it has just got worse and worse. For more than thirty years, I have lived a lie. I can hardly describe it to you, but the ‘me’ you see on the outside is completely and utterly different from the ‘me’ on the inside.” “Aha,” thought doctor Gledhill. “I think I know what is coming up.” “The effects on my life have been disastrous and I find myself almost friendless, doctor. My behavior is too much for most people, and I daren’t tell anyone why I am the way I am. That is why I am here. The real me has been trying to burst out for years, but until now I always thought too much of public opinion to actually do anything about it. But enough is enough and I must finally seek a solution.” Doctor Gledhill looked at the man for some moments, weighing up his response. “Look, I think I understand what you’re saying,” replied the doctor after some moments. “Ever since you can remember, you have felt more female than male and now you’ve come to me asking if I can put you forward for a sex change. I must say I’m surprised by the reaction you received from some of my colleagues in the medical profession. Sex changes are really quite common these days and there’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. If you like, I can refer you to a consultant I know at the hospital who specializes in these procedures.” “Oh no, you don’t understand,” said the man looking a little put out. “I’m perfectly happy with being male. I have no desire to become female and I did not come here seeking a sex change.” “Well, I’m terribly sorry if I have misunderstood you,” replied the doctor, surprised by the response. “It’s just that everything you told me sounded remarkably similar to other cases I have dealt with where the patient was seeking to change their sex. So then would you mind correcting my error?” “Yes of course,” replied the man. “Can’t you tell by looking at me? I’m not looking for a sex change. I’m happy with my gender and wouldn’t dream of trying to changing it. What I’m looking for is a species change.” Dr. Gledhill’s head jerked back sharply as if he had just received an electric shock. Had he heard the man right? He’d said he was looking for a species change, hadn’t he? Surely not. Better check. “Look, I’m sorry if I have misheard you, but did I hear you say you were looking for a species change?” “Yes, you did,” replied the man. “And what species are you looking to become?“ asked Dr. Gledhill warily. “Why surely that is obvious.” replied the man somewhat disdainfully. “Ever since I saw pictures of the Maasai Mara as small boy, I have wanted nothing else than to be a giraffe.” Dr. Gledhill quickly attempted to gather his thoughts. Surely this must be some sort of joke. Perhaps one of his colleagues was playing a hoax on him. Yet since the man looked in earnest and gave not the slightest hint of any prank being played, he decided that his best course of action would be to try and talk the man round to a normal way of thinking. “Look I understand that you may have issues and problems that perhaps need addressing,” said the doctor in a soothing tone. “But you do know that you can’t just become a giraffe, don’t you?” “And why not?” came a rather stern reply. “Well…” stumbled the doctor searching for the right words, “well…because you are human. You were born a human and that is what you are. You can’t change that.” “But you were happy to refer me for a sex change?” “That is entirely different,” answered Dr. Gledhill. “There is a world of difference between changing one’s sex and changing one’s kind.” “Oh there is, is there?” said the man cynically. “I’d love to know what that difference is exactly. Apparently my kind is fixed but my gender isn’t. Tell me doctor, you’re not a creationist by any chance, are you?” It took a lot to offend Dr. Clive Gledhill, but this comment hit a raw nerve. He most definitely was not a creationist and he was not about to let his patient off without letting him know this in the sharpest possible terms. “No I’m not a creationist, thank you very much,” he replied tartly. “I absolutely affirm the Darwinian theory of natural selection. But what of it?” “Then you believe in the mutability of species, you deny the fixity of kinds, and you affirm that we both evolved from apes all the way back to some kind of bacteria?” “Yes I do,” replied the doctor. “Well then since you affirm these things to be true,” replied the man, “why do you deny the possibility that I can change from a human to a giraffe.” “Why a giraffe? How about an ape, since they are our nearest cousins,” said the doctor sarcastically. “I was never very good at climbing trees – it makes me giddy – so I dread to think what swinging through them would do,” replied the man with total seriousness. “But you have avoided my question. Look, since you affirm that the gender of a person is not so fixed that it can’t be changed, an opinion which must surely be based on an evolutionary understanding of the world, and since you believe in the morphing of atoms into creatures and of kinds into other kinds, why would you then claim that humanness is so fixed that it cannot be changed?” “Well,” said the doctor, thinking as quickly as he could. “I’m not sure whether such a thing is even possible, but even if it were, would it be desirable? And even if it were both possible and desirable, we certainly do not have the capability of performing species change operations at present.” “Then might I suggest that the scientific establishment begin researching into this capability,” said the man indignantly. “They claim that they can make a man out of a woman or a woman out of a man by cutting bits off here and there and by the injection of various hormones. But if they are as serious about the mutability of species and kinds as they say they are, maybe they need to put their money where their mouths are – else I shall think that they neither understand nor fully believe the logic of their own convictions.” “And might I suggest that you go and see a psychiatrist and perhaps talk over your issues with them?” replied a clearly irritated Dr. Gledhill. “It doesn’t surprise me,” replied the man walking towards the door. “All of the previous doctors I have seen have told me pretty much the same thing. They all affirmed their belief in evolution, yet when push came to shove, they have backed off from the implication of their beliefs, which is that nothing is fixed and so everything is open to change – including a medically-induced species change. I see that you are no more open to change than any of them were.” And with that he walked through the door leaving Dr. Clive Gledhill somewhat shell-shocked at the conversation he had just had. After some moments he managed to pull himself together. “Species change indeed,” he muttered to himself. “Let’s hope my final patient just has an upset stomach.” Rob Slane is the author of A Christian and Unbeliever discuss Life, the Universe, and Everything ...

Humor, Satire

Call me Billy

I met a man the other day Who thought he was a goat He shaped his hair to look like horns And bleated from his throat Confused, but caught with sympathy With truth I plied the man But he with darkened eyes aghast Just bid me "Baa!" and ran With grief at his misguided state I followed him with care But coming round a corner, stopped At what my eyes saw there A crowd had gathered round this wretch And placed him on their stage They cheered his choice with loud acclaim And led him to their cage I cried aloud, "Don't do it, man!" To keep him from their chains They turned on me in frothy rage And blamed me for his pains I cried again, "You need the Truth!" But he in fear refused He bleated feebly, fearing that His thoughts could be confused The crowd rose up and echoed him With voices loud and bold With angry eyes they charged at me With tongues and whips to scold I fled, I hesitate to say And sorrowful admit For they together threatened to A greater crime commit But as I left that tragedy I chanced a look behind And saw that each had hidden close Some error like his kind The tragic truth was now laid bare: They had no love for him But used his case just to affirm Each one's beloved whim...

Apologetics 101, Satire

The Triangle Curvature Inclusion Bill

A controversial bill to redefine triangles was presented in the British Parliament this past month. Debate was opened by the Culture Secretary, Valerie Brimble, who began by setting out the case for expanding what she sees as an oppressively restrictive definition. “Times change,” she began, “old customs and habits which may have served society well in the past need to be constantly reviewed. It is my contention that the traditional view of triangles, as having three straight sides, joining at three corners and forming three internal angles which aggregate to 180 degrees must urgently be reviewed. There is no reason why this configuration need remain, and a modern society ought not to be hidebound by antiquated customs.” Unusually for a Commons debate, she then whipped out a visual aid from under the dispatch box in order to demonstrate her proposals. Figure 1, she told a packed House, was an example of how triangles have been traditionally defined. FIG 1. She then went on to explain that this traditional definition of triangles could no longer be tolerated in a modern, diverse and inclusive society. “If we are to be a compassionate people, then we must include shapes that we’ve previously pushed to the margins.” She then sought to reassure some of her more traditionalist colleagues that what the government was proposing was merely a change to allow just one of the sides of the triangle to be redefined, to allow for the introduction of a wiggly line. Figure 2 was then presented to her fellow MPs, which depicted a “triangle” with this wiggly short side. FIG. 2 As she sat down after her opening remarks, Mrs. Brimble faced a barrage of criticism from opponents of the bill. It was pointed out to her that once you redefine triangles to include one wiggly line, it was only a matter of time until other self-interest groups demanded their right to add a second or even a third bendy line. Mrs. Brimble responded by reassuring the House that the government had no plans to allow any further redefinitions. “We are only, I repeat, only, legislating to allow either one of the two shorter lines to be redefined,” she said. “We are not, I repeat, we are not legislating for the redefinition of the hypotenuse.” However, this failed to satisfy her opponents who one by one got up to denounce the redefinition. One of the most vocal said this: “Can my Right Honourable friend tell the house this: once she has redefined the triangle to include a wiggly line, what reason can she give to those who then want to redefine it to include four straight lines, or multiple bendy lines, or even as many lines, bendy or otherwise, that they choose?” Not to be outdone by Mrs. Brimble, he then whipped out his own visual aid and showed the House what could well happen to the triangle if this legislation passes. FIG. 3 “Oh come off it,” scoffed a clearly exasperated Mrs. Brimble. “Don’t be ridiculous. They don’t look anything like triangles. Even a fool can see that.”...

Satire

Ode to hurt...or why my tolerant nature can't stand your opinions

I’m hurting I am, and I want you to know, That the pain I am feeling, isn’t likely to go. I’m hurting I am, it’s your opinions you see, I just can’t accept them, I do not agree. D’you not pay attention, d’you not see the news? This post-modern world has no place for your views. They’re outdated, outmoded, outrageous no doubt, And lots, lots more words beginning with out. Reactionary, Dark Ages, Stone Age repression, And other assorted clichéd expressions. That’s what I think of your bigoted rants, Which contrast so starkly with my own tolerance. You’ve made me so angry, so hurt, even bitter, What can I do, but to go onto Twitter? Hashtag #BigotedIntolerantPhobe, Said something that hurt me, so I’m telling the globe. I’ll put it on Facebook, Instagram too, The world needs to know the pain caused by you. Pain that keeps giving and won’t find relief, For I simply can’t cope with a different belief. But being free-thinking, I’m perfectly fine, That others have thoughts that are different to mine. I must draw the line though, with views such as yours, Against which there really ought to be laws. Don’t get me wrong, I’m 100 percent, Committed to free speech and the right to dissent. But it’s Twenty-Nineteen and I can’t understand, Why opinions like yours still haven’t been banned. The law ought to treat them as Hate Crimes, it should, Then you’d have to keep them all up in your head, yes you would. And not only Hate Crimes, but Hurt Speech I say, On account of them really upsetting my day. Enough is enough, I’m really perturbed, My tolerant nature has been greatly disturbed. From now on I beg, keep your views well hid. Did I tell you they hurt me? Yes you hurt me, you did. Rob Slane is the author of A Christian and Unbeliever discuss Life, the Universe, and Everything. ...

Humor, News

Tearing down tyranny, one joke a time...

November 9 marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which, for 28 years, divided socialist East Germany from the free West. To mark the anniversary some old East German jokes gained new life. What sort of jokes? Jokes that mocked the State for its incompetence and vindictive pettiness. Jokes that could get an East German arrested back then if the police found out he'd shared them. But if jokes could land you in jail, why did people risk telling them? Because every punchline was an act of resistance. A government that couldn't take a joke was a government that had overstepped its bounds and this became a small way of pushing back. So to mark the anniversary here are a few of the more popular jests from 30 years ago. Why do Stasi (East German secret police) officers make such good taxi drivers? – You get in the car and they already know your name and where you live. The five rules of socialism: Don’t think. If you think, don’t speak. If you think and speak, don’t write. If you think, speak and write, don’t sign it. If you think, speak, write and sign it, don’t be surprised. What would happen if the desert became a socialist country? Sand would become scarce. Three East German political prisoners were sharing the same cell and got to talking about what they were in for. The first explained, “My watch always ran ahead, and I would always arrive at work early, so they said I must be spying.” The second fellow shared, “My watch always ran slow, so I was always late for work, so they said I was guilty of sabotage.” Then the third fellow said, “I was always exactly on time for work so they said my watch much be from the West.” Asking, how could it happen here? We mark this anniversary as a tribute to those brave and wise souls who fought tyranny in the past. But we also mark it so we can learn from the past to hopefully avoid the same sort of mistakes going forward. When we see the trouble Big Brother brought the East Germans, we'll be motivated to pre-empt the same sort of government over-reach here... before it gets to the point where we're arrested for telling jokes. With that in mind, here are a few jokes worth telling while we still can. Three Americans businessmen were sharing the same cell and got to talking about what they were in for. The first explained, “I charged more for my goods than anyone else. So they convicted me of price gouging.” The second fellow shared, “I charged less than anyone else for my product, so they convicted me of anti-competitive dumping.” Then the third fellow said, “I charged the same for my product as everyone else, so they convicted me of price-fixing.” Here's a switch worth making: let's treat convicted murderers like we've treated the unborn and let them be executed, and treat the unborn like we've treated convicted murderers and give them life. A cheap Albertan fellow heard that women drivers get better insurance rates so he phoned up his insurance company and asked, "If I identify as a safer driver, can I get this cheaper rate too?" "I'm sorry sir," the insurance rep replied, "You can't simply identify as a safer driver and expect us to take that seriously." "Okay," he said, "but what if I identify as a woman - can I get the better rate then?" To which the insurance rep replied, "Of course ma'am. What do you think we are – a bunch of transphobic bigots?" What should a Christian think of mocking humor? Some Christians argue that humor, and particularly biting humor, has no place in Christian dialogue. Passages will be cited such as 1 Peter 3:15 and Proverbs 15:1: "...give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect..." "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." But this "absolutely no mocking" understanding overlooks that God Himself mocks foolishness, with one of the funnier examples occurring in Isaiah 44:14b-17: "He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, 'Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!' And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, 'Deliver me, for you are my god!'” During His time on Earth, Christ had a biting way with words as evidenced repeatedly in Matt. 23 in thrusts like these: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean" (vs. 27). "Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!" (vs. 24). Ah, you might say, it's one thing for God to do something and quite another for us to do the same. There is truth to that, but let's also remember that we are called to be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1, 1 Cor. 11:1, 1 Peter 2:21). And let's remember, too, how others in the Bible have used humor or in other ways shown approval for mockery. For example, Luke evidenced a dry wit in Acts 17:21, poking fun at the Athenians: "Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new." Solomon wasn't pulling any punches when he compared beautiful women without discretion as being "Like a gold ring in a pig's snout" (Prov. 11:22).  David in Ps. 52:6-7 spoke of how the "righteous will...laugh at" the foolish fellow who "trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others." More texts could be cited, but this last one is a must – in 2 Cor 10:5 we are told to "tear down arguments, and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God." It takes wisdom to know when to tear down arguments and when to answer more gently, but one general (and certainly not absolute) rule is that the broader the audience, the more pointed we can be. And vice versa. So if one of our coworkers is bald, bearded, and loves wearing his summer dress even into the depths of fall, we won't want to start a conversation by making fun of his fashion sense. But when politicians and judges and celebrities start insisting that men should be allowed to compete as women, that is an idea that must be mocked – to treat it as anything less than insane is to give it too much credit (Prov 26:4). So as we mark the Berlin Wall's demise some 30 years ago, we can remember that humor has been used as a weapon for a lot longer than that, by both God and man. To learn more about the godly use of pointed humor, a great small book on the subject is Douglas Wilson's "A Serrated Edge."...

News, RP App

Male rapper “breaks” women’s weightlifting record

For a world increasingly confused about gender, February was an illuminating month with not one, but two well-publicized examples of how it is God, and not our feelings, that makes us male and female (Gen. 1:27). In the first instance two boys identifying as girls placed first and second in the girls’ 55-meter dash at Connecticut’s state indoor championship. One competitor dared protest, telling the Associated Press: “We all know the outcome of the race before it even starts; it’s demoralizing.” While the two boys are the best “girls” in their state, they aren’t even in the top five nationally. So the ridiculousness of having boys – albeit not especially speedy boys – running against girls was lost on some. But two weeks later British rapper Zuby offered up his own helpful bit of clarity when he decided to break the British women’s weightlifting records. First up was the deadlift record. Though only a self-described “recreational lifter” Zuby bested the British women’s record by a “wide margin.” Then he tackled the squat record, and finally bested the women’s bench press record too. Afterward, he posted short videos of his efforts to Twitter, assuring viewers it was all okay because he was “identifying as a woman at the time.” When someone pointed out his women’s records weren’t official because Zuby hadn’t demonstrated his level of male testosterone was “below 10 nanomoles per litre” (as apparently international competition standards require men to do when they want to compete as women) Zuby had the perfect PC response: “Stop questioning my lived experience.” Or, in other words, what was this detractor doing, bringing in objective measurable standards when the world has already concluded feelings trump reality. If being a woman is simply a state of mind, if a person’s genitalia and genetics don’t matter, then why should “nanomoles”? Or as Zuby put it, “Stop being a bigot.” The best supportive tweet? A Steve Green shared he was setting some records of his own: “I broke the Olympic men’s record because my 2 kg dumbbell identifies as a 400 kg weight.”...

Pro-life - Abortion, Satire

Why men are superior to women – a pro-life analogy

What follows is the text of a brochure that was delivered to more than 20,000 houses in Edmonton, Alberta during an election campaign about 15 years ago. It got a lot of people talking... and quite a number of them screaming. We'd assumed no one could possibly take the title seriously, but we were wrong, and many people did. But, strangely, when we explained that, rather than being an attack on women, this was actually a defense of the unborn, the screaming only got louder. **** This brochure is not about why all men are superior to all women – such a broad generalization is unscientific (as there are always the rare exceptions) and could even be viewed as sexist. No, in this brochure we are going to deal specifically with why Bob is superior to Susan. And in the process we will touch on why most men are superior to most women. Now, there are four differences that make Bob superior to Susan. First, Bob lives in Edmonton and Susan lives in Calgary. This makes Susan inferior for reasons that are so obvious they really don’t need explanation. Second, Bob, as a mature adult, is more developed than the prepubescent Susan. Since she is less developed she is clearly less human. Third, Bob is a healthy individual but Susan relies on a variety of medical devices to stay alive. She would die without her regular treatments and therefore does not rate as fully human. Finally, Bob is much bigger than the diminutive Susan. Since there is less of Susan obviously she is less human – subhuman even. And, of course, size is why most men are superior to most women since men are (aside from the rare exceptions) bigger than women. Four differences in all, and in each instance they make a compelling scientific case for Bob’s superiority… and also for male superiority in general. Right? You don’t agree? Good, because neither do we. And yet people point to these same four differences to argue that the unborn are somehow inferior and less human than those of us are already born. Location – the unborn do live in a different location than us. But so do Calgarians. Does the fact they live in a different location make them inferior, less human, and less worthy of protection? Of course not. Level of Development – the unborn are less developed than us but that again is no reason to think they are any less human. If it is, then the less developed Susan is also less of a person than the mature Bob. Viability – the argument is often made that the unborn aren’t human because they are dependent on their mothers – they aren’t viable on their own. But newborns are pretty dependent on their mothers as well. And Susan is also not viable on her own. Are we now allowed to kill anyone dependent on pacemakers, dialysis machines, insulin shots or the like? Obviously, viability doesn’t make someone more or less human. Size – the unborn are much smaller than us. Does that make them less human? If it does then the smaller Susan must also be less human than the bigger Bob. In Canada we’ve justified the killing of over 100,000 unborn children each year by pretending that their location, level of development, dependency, and size somehow make them less than human. But we know better than that. You know better than that. We’re standing up for the unborn. Won’t you? ----- A brilliant filmmaker used this article and brochure as the leap-off point for a short video. Check out Breanne Jansen's creation below.  ...

Satire

Based on a true story

"Um, excuse me?" I am kneeling next to a newly planted row of tomato starts and pulling weeds when I hear a woman's voice from over my bent shoulders. Several small businesses share the busy alley next to our back yard garden, and I assume the voice is speaking to someone else. I do not look up. With the back of my gardening glove I brush some loose hairs away from my eyes, and I continue weeding, tossing a few more invasive cheeseweed seedlings onto my growing pile. But then I hear the voice again, louder this time, "Hello? Miss? Excuse me." Because of the steady stream of foot, bicycle, and car traffic that passes by the garden each day it's not uncommon for passers-by to stop and say a kind word or two about the new raised beds or about how nicely our plants are coming along. "Oh, hi," I say, rising stiffly from my knees and turning to face the voice, "Sorry. I thought you were talking to someone else just now." I smile and wait for her to speak. She has stopped her vintage bicycle next to our bent chicken wire fence and rests her hands on her narrow hips. Her eyes are a blue so pale that I seem to be looking not at the eyes themselves but at two vacant holes in her head through which I can see the cloudless sky behind her. I reach over and grip the splintery handle of my shovel and lean my weight into it so that I can stretch my legs. I look at her expectantly. She does not smile back. After running her eyes over the whole garden plot, she finally says, “Well,” with a voice as crisp and sour and cool as the stalks of rhubarb growing behind me, "I just was riding by here and couldn't help noticing what you're doing, and I have to say that I am genuinely shocked. What, is with this heap of dead plants?" "Oh those?" I chuckle a little. "I'm not keeping those, actually. I'm just going to toss them in the compost when I'm done." "I figured you weren't planning on keeping those. And I’m appalled. That's why I stopped – it looks like you're killing them." "Yesss? Um, I guess I am," I respond with a nervous laugh-cough. "Take that!" I say, leaning sideways and yanking a young dandelion out of the carrot bed. I intend it to be a lighthearted joke, but it flops somewhere in the dust near the bicycle tires and dissolves into the gravel. The cyclist widens the pale blue holes in her head and tightens her lips. Clearly I am not making a new friend. After a long and uncomfortable pause, the words, "What in the world?" shoot toward me, and I resist the urge to duck. "How can you even call yourself a gardener? How can you treat plants this way?" I blink. I blink again, speechless, and tighten my grip on the shovel. "Well? Do you call yourself a gardener?" she demands. This is a relief, a question I can answer. "Oh, well, yes. An amateur, but yeah, I guess I'm a gardener." "Ha!" she says. I can taste something bitter on the back of my tongue as she opens her mouth to continue. "Correct me if I'm wrong here, gardener, but last time I checked, gardeners are people who love plants. Gardeners are people who nurture plants. So explain this!" She flings her hand toward my little pile of wilting dandelions and pigweed seedlings and then turns with raised eyebrows to scan the alleyway – as if she is trying to find somebody willing to join her in her triumphant outrage. "Well, this is actually an important part of caring for the vegetables I planted here." My voice has a bit of a nervous shake in it. I can't believe I'm having to defend my weed pile. "This is what nurturing a garden looks like." "Oh right. Then why are you brutalizing perfectly innocent seedlings? Seriously. Why do you hate plants so much?" "They're weeds, not good plants." I resist the urge to roll my eyes. "Says you. The difference between a so-called 'weed,'” she says, making scare quotes in the air with her fingers, “and a 'good' plant is just your opinion. You have no right to determine which plants should live and which should die. What do you have against them, anyway? What right can you possibly have to inflict your opinion on every other plant?" I stare at her for a moment, trying to weigh whether this is some kind of satire, some kind of practical joke. But her cold eyes are glaring so widely that I can see the whites completely encircling the blue. ”Well," I begin, "I have gardener's handbook that I can check whenever I'm not quite sure which kind of plant I'm looking at. But after a few years of seeing these things grow up, you get pretty good at identifying..." "What! You have this book, so now you're some kind of expert? Seriously? These things look just like all the other plants around here. They're really not that different. See that one? It’s not even touching the ones next to it. Not hurting a thing! And anyway, they're tiny. Look at them! Totally. Harmless. And if you just gave them a chance, you might actually learn to see the unique beauty in them!” "Actually, I..." "I am dead serious," she continues, "I cannot understand how any gardener could do...this." She broadly sweeps her arm toward the weed pile again. "If you really loved plants – if you were a real gardener – you would treat them with care and help them grow and appreciate them for what they are." She crosses her arms, satisfied in the irrefutability of her argument. Suppressing the chuckle that is trying to escape, I cough into my shoulder and glance around the alleyway, looking for a hidden camera. Maybe this is some kind of skit for reality television. But no, I see nothing. “That’s the thing,” I say. “You're missing the point. I love the plants that are supposed to be in the garden. I love these snap peas. I love the carrots. And if I love these plants, then I have to root out the invaders.” I point to a dandelion. "Look. This is total discrimination. Either you love plants or you don't. You are obviously a plant hater. You're hurting plants. There's the proof!" "But if I don't get rid of the bindweed, then it will get rid of my snap peas. I am not raising a garden in order to eat bindweed for dinner. You’re welcome to try some, however, if it would soothe your conscience.” Sarcasm is getting the better of me, and I can feel my suppressed smirk has surfaced. I can’t straighten it out quickly enough, so I look down at my dusty shoes and pretend to scratch an itch on the bridge of my nose. “I’m sorry,” she says, not sounding sorry in the least, “but I don't know why people like you take these things so simplistically. Not everything is so black and white. The concept of a 'weed' is just a social construct, and nobody needs to take sides here. There should be harmony among all plants—no! exceptions!” She pounds her handlebar to punctuate those last two words and then sighs. “Bindweed and snap peas can peacefully coexist." I look up at her pained expression and exhale slowly so as not to outright guffaw in her face. “Uhh, not really. Not without doing serious damage to the snap peas. Not without choking out the plants that are the whole point of this garden." "You have got to be kidding. You are a total weedaphobe! I knew it! You're afraid of bindweed! This is so unbelievable. You're acting out of irrational fear. I mean, look at these things. Look at how tiny and harmless those little bindweeds are." She leans her bicycle toward my tomato bed and points them out to me for my edification. “They have these beautiful white flowers. Beautiful! What are you afraid of?" "I'm not afraid of them. I just know what they will do if I let them grow unchecked. If I call myself a gardener at all, I will call a weed a weed and then I'll cast it into the outer darkness, so to speak.” "Ahhh, so then what about the ones over there?" She points to the opposite side of the alley where a small forest of thistles and dandelions have sprung up next to the neighbors’ dumpster. "You think you're going to get rid of all the so-called 'weeds' in the world? Think again. They are stronger and more resilient than you think." The laugh finally escapes, despite my best efforts. "Believe me. I am fully aware of how resilient they are. That's why I'm out here doing this again for the umpteenth time this summer. But I am certainly not trying to single-handedly take down every weed in the world. I'm not even trying to get rid of the ones next door. It's my garden I'm concerned about. I am focusing on the weeds right here because they are the ones I’m responsible for. I am focusing on the ones that are trying to take over my good plants." "Are you kidding me? 'Good plants'? These plants that you're killing had just as much right to be here as those peas do. In fact, I bet a lot of them were here first. But obviously you're too closed-minded to appreciate what they have to offer. Do you realize how useful and beautiful some of these plants can be? Look at this dandelion you've ruined. If you had just let it grow, it could produce lovely yellow flowers and friendly little fairy puffs! But ooooh. It's scaaary, isn't it? Can't let it grow freely, can you?" She snorts. "I guess you're afraid of flowers, too. Flowerphobe." I roll my eyes toward the sky. A redtail hawk is riding an updraft directly overhead, scoping out his lunch options. Then I turn my gaze back to the lady’s face and look hard through her sky-colored eyes. "This has nothing to do with fear. It has everything to do with wanting to take care of my peas. It has everything to do with loving my garden." "So pulling plants up by the roots. You call that love?" "Yes. I do." My nose is starting to itch for real now, so I rub at it with the back of my wrist. "Well. If that's what you call love, then I would not even want to imagine how you'd treat the things you hate. Look at how damaged those poor little plants are." I look. And I smile a broad, genuine smile. "Yes. Totally damaged. Isn't it great? And once they're all dead and rotted and decomposed in my compost heap? Then they will be given the opportunity to return to my garden. At that point they will be welcome. But not before." "Garden hater." She climbs back onto her bike. "Plantphobe." "Come back in a month or two, and I'll let you have a bite." She snorts again. "Oh really. Of what?" "Bindweed, if you like." She narrows her pale eyes and opens her mouth as if to respond, then closes it again and pushes off without a word. I listen to the crunch of gravel under her tires as I lean my shovel back against a T-post and return to my knees to take care of my tomato starts. The soil is warm between my fingers. Come July, there will be fruit. Hannah K. Grieser is the author "The Clouds Ye So Much Dread: Hard Times and the Kindness of God." She lives in Idaho where she designs graphics, photographs landscapes, dabbles in the garden, and (with her husband, Jayson) is raising five pig-farming, music-loving, baseball-playing sons—including one cancer survivor. She has also written for Relief Journal, Books & Culture, and Desiring God....

News

What’s in a name? Payless prank had people paying $600 for their shoes

Payless sells their shoes for as low as $20. So why were people paying $200, $400, and even $600 for their shoes a month before Christmas? It came down to a clever bit of rebranding. The discount shoe store hasn’t been doing well as of late, shutting down hundreds of stores last year, so in the lead-up to Christmas they were looking to make a splash. Their advertising agency proposed a publicity stunt: rent out an upscale retail location, stock it with regular Payless shoes, but relabel them as Palessi, charge 10 times more, and see if anyone buys. To really sell the stunt they decked the store out in avant-garde statues, and had champagne for the opening. It worked: as the Washington Post’s Kristine Phillips reported, at the grand opening customers gushed about the shoes. “‘I would pay $400, $500. People are going to be like, ‘Where did you get those? Those are amazing,’ a woman said as she tried on a pair of bright-gold sneakers with leopard prints.” “‘Palessi is just such high quality, high fashion, taking your shoe game up to the next level,’ said one man wearing spiked necklaces, holding a knee-high boot. ‘It looks really well made.’” “‘It’s just stunning. Elegant, sophisticated and versatile,’ said a woman, as she held a pair of floral stiletto heels.” Anyone who bought the shoes was taken to the back and let in on the stunt. And by way of an apology for the trick played on them, they were given their money back and given their shoes for free. It’s hilarious that anyone was willing to pay 1000% the going retail price – is this what it looks like to have more money than sense? But before we laugh too hard, let’s acknowledge that the trick – a new label disguising the same old, same old – is one that even a thrifty dutchman could fall for. What’s worse, it’s one we regularly pull on ourselves. After all, how often don’t we relabel our sins as mistakes? And we actually buy it! ...

Satire

First transage winner of under-10s race

A 27-year-old man from Great Britain, who identifies as an 8-year-old boy, has become the first Transage winner of a gold medal at the World Cross Country Championship. Brian Potts, a fitness instructor from Hull, won the under-10s 6-kilometer race in a time of 17 minutes and 21 seconds, over four minutes ahead of his nearest rival. Potts, representing Great Britain for the first time, celebrated his victory on Twitter, writing: “First Transage world champion … ever.” Allowing adults who self-identify as children to compete in junior sports events has been a controversial subject, as critics have argued that it puts their opponents at an inherent disadvantage. However, Potts was quoted in the Hull Gazette earlier this year, arguing that banning Transagers from competing with children would be discriminatory: “As a society, we cannot have adults identifying as transage and it not be recognized in sports. Focusing on performance advantage is largely irrelevant because this is actually a rights issue. We shouldn’t be worried about transagers taking over the Olympics. What we should be concentrating on is things like fairness and human rights instead.” To those who have questioned his win, and whether it was fair to allow a 27-year-old to compete with boys nearly 20 years younger than him, Potts went onto Twitter to vent his frustration with what he sees as an attitude born of prejudice, and which belongs firmly in the past: “I can’t believe we’re still having this discussion in the 21st century. This is much bigger than sports. It’s about human rights. And catering to the Transage-o-phobes only furthers the oppression of those who only seek to be the age they feel. People, I won. Get over it.” Not everyone sees it that way, though. After the race, the silver medal winner, 9-year-old Daniel Song from Canada, and bronze medal winner, 8-year-old Manuel López from Spain, lodged a complaint with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), alleging that Potts had an unfair advantage and should not have been allowed to compete in the under-10s. However, this approach may well have backfired, with latest reports suggesting that they could find themselves stripped of their medals, and sent to a Transageist re-education camp before being allowed to compete again. Rob Slane is the author of "A Christian and an Unbeliever Discuss...Life, the Universe and Everything." His article is responding to the recent gold-medal winning performance by Rachel McKinnon, a man who says he is a woman, who, on Oct 14, won the women's 35-44 age bracket at the 2018 Masters Track Cycling World Championship. The transgender winner argued that because he’s lost to the women he was competing against more times than he’s beat them, and because many women have a higher FTP (Functional Threshold Power, or the maximum average power a rider can produce over the course of an hour) than him, that makes it fair. While that might make it competitive it would do so in much the same way that if a 40-something-year-old on foot raced his 8-year-old daughter on her bike, it might be close. God made us male and female, and that brings with any number of differences. Those differences might mean that an average man might be competitive with women in some events, but that doesn't make it any less a matter of apples competing against oranges. So what's the root issue here? The world says we can be whatever we think we are. But Christians know that only God's thinking can dictate reality. And actually, as the video below shows, on some level even the world recognizes that thinking something doesn't make it so. ...

Theology

Did Abraham really exist?

Evangelicals are debating the historicity of Adam, but they are too timid. It is time to reject fundamentalist distortions of the Abrahamic narrative just as decisively as we have abandoned literalistic readings of Genesis 1–3. Clinging to discredited biblical accounts of Abraham as if these events actually happened makes us look like Neanderthals, undermines the plausibility of our witness, and ultimately overturns the Gospel. To defend the Gospel and uphold the authority of the Bible, we need to reckon with the myth of Abraham. So starts a brilliant piece of satire by Dr. Peter Leithart, a minister of the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches. Here are some further excerpts: The historical evidence is overwhelming and need not be rehearsed here. It is sufficient to point the curious reader to Hans Georg Unglauber’s definitive study, popularly known as Die Suche nach dem historischen Abraham but originally published as Abraham: Historie oder Pferd-Geschichte? Unglauber shows that there is not a shred of independent evidence for the existence of Abraham, much less for any of the events recorded in Genesis. But our faith does not stand or fall on the uncertain deliverances of historical scholarship. Scripture is our rule. The biblical writers deployed the full arsenal of ancient literary conventions, and their texts are full of sly authorial signals that they are not supposed to be taken literally... The story of Abraham’s exodus (Gen. 12:10–20) is obviously modeled on Israel’s Egyptian sojourn and exodus (which most likely never happened either). By shaping this narrative to mimic later myths, the author indicates that the episode is not to be taken seriously as history. Genesis 12, like the exodus narrative, teaches that God delivers. It does not matter whether or not God has ever actually delivered anyone. The moral stands: God is our deliverer... After we dispose of Adam and Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Isaiah, and Jeremiah are next. And why stop there? Like Genesis, the Gospels are ancient literature. The Evangelists were no more concerned about facts than the authors of the Pentateuch, and for those enlightened enough to see, the Gospels are replete with hints that they are mythic symbolizations of profound, enduring truth. Only when it is stripped of the mythology of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus will the Bible be firmly established as our inerrant rule of faith. We must die to our modern demand to know “what happened” and recognize that Scripture is infallible only when it is thoroughly de-historicized. Then we will arrive finally at the fullness of Christian faith, the Church of Christ Without Jesus. The full article, "The Abraham Myth", was published at First Things. Addressing Faulty Hermeneutics Dr. Leithart's parody is aimed at Biblical scholars, such as Dr. Peter Enns, who question much of the historicity of Gen.1-11. For example, Enns has argued: Paul, as a first-century Jew, bore witness to God’s act in Christ in the only way that he could have been expected to do so, through ancient idioms and categories known to him and his religious tradition for century upon century.  One can believe that Paul is correct theologically and historically about the problem of sin and death and the solution that God provides in Christ without also needing to believe that his assumptions about human origins are accurate.  The need for a savior does not require a historical Adam.... ....A proper view of inspiration will embrace the fact that God speaks by means of the cultural idiom of the authors – whether it be the author of Genesis in describing origins or how Paul would later come to understand Genesis.  Both reflect the setting and limitations of the cultural moment.  – The Evolution of Adam, p.143 Enns has in fact responded to Leithart, defending his approach. Interestingly, Enns doesn't rule out Leithart's argument that Enns' demythologization of Adam might equally well apply to Abraham: Even though the literary styles of Genesis 12 and chapters 1-11 are consistent with each other, thus suggesting one narrative, their content is quite different, which is why biblical scholars don’t call the Abraham story “myth” but something else – like legend or political propaganda. In other words, what holds for the Adam story may or may not hold for the Abraham story. Leithart, in his reply to Enns, stresses his main point: that the same sort of arguments that Enns and others use to dismiss the historicity of Adam can equally well be applied elsewhere in Scripture. Also, he notes that Enns often accepts as fact that which is merely archaeological conjecture or scholarly fad. Moreover, Enns is mistaken to think that we can give up Paul's belief in a historical Adam while retaining Paul’s doctrine of Adam. The Bible is not a collection of stories illustrating doctrine and morals. It’s a record of God’s actions in history for the redemption of the world. We cannot peel off the historical husk of the Bible and retain its nourishing didactic kernel. Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead? And why stop at Abraham? Richard Klaus has remarked on the close similarity between the argumentation used by Enns to argue against an historical Adam, and that of others to argue against the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ. Both maintain, for example, that the mythological worldview of ancient Israel has been invalidated by modern science, that we should not read the Bible in a naive literalist sense, that the Bible writers were just children of their time, that the Bible's theological truths don't demand historical veracity, etc. Consider, for example, an interview with retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong. Spong insists that Christianity doesn't need a supernatural miracle to be established: I don’t think the Resurrection has anything to do with physical resuscitation, I think it means the life of Jesus was raised back into the life of God, not into the life of this world, and that it was out of this that his presence — not his body — was manifested to certain witnesses. He thinks the Resurrection must be placed in its proper context to be correctly interpreted and understood: I tried to help people get out of that literalism... When people hear it, they grab on to it. They could not believe the superstitious stuff and they were brainwashed to believe that if they could not believe it literally they could not be a Christian. A Christian is one who accepts the reality of God without the requirement of a literal belief in miracles...What the Resurrection says is that Jesus breaks every human limit, including the limit of death, and by walking in his path you can catch a glimpse of that. And I think that’s a pretty good message. It's no message at all, according to Paul: "If Christ has not been raised then your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins" (1 Cor.15:17). Here, with Spong's denial of the Gospel, we reach the logical conclusion of Enns' demythologizing trajectory. Happily, Dr. Enns still affirms the physical resurrection of Christ. But on what basis? Not on the grounds of a simple, "because the Bible tells me so." This article is reprinted with permission from a 2016 post on Dr. John Byl's blog Bylogos. The picture is by Guido Reni with his “St. Joseph” standing in for Abraham....

Science - Creation/Evolution

ON THE ORIGIN OF ARTICLES: You thought this article was designed? How unscientific of you!

You might think that someone wrote this article. But of course, you would be mistaken. Articles are not written by people. They are the result of chance. Every intelligent person knows it. There might be some people who want you to think that articles are written by people. But this view is totally unscientific. After all, we cannot see the person who allegedly wrote the article. We cannot detect him or her in any way. The claim that this article has an author cannot be empirically verified, and therefore it must be rejected. All we have is the article itself, and we must find a scientific explanation for its origin. IT JUST SEEMS DESIGNED Since no intelligent source can be empirically detected within this article, empirical science must look to the chance processes of nature for its formation. In other words, we must not allow ourselves to think that this article came about from a mind; for this would be unscientific. Since it is not the result of a mind, it follows logically that this article is the result of chance. The article has not been designed – it is not the result of some unseen conscious forethought. Naysayers might suggest that this article bears evidence of design. They might point out that it has a logical flow, that its sentences are coherent, and that it contains creative information. True enough. But this is only evidence of apparent design at best. We must certainly grant that many articles appear designed, as if they had been planned by a mind and written with creative forethought. But to assume that the design came from some unseen, undetectable author would be unscientific. ALL THIS GENIUS IS JUST GLITCHES What then is the true origin of articles? We know that articles can be copied. Articles on paper can be duplicated using a Xerox machine, and electronic articles can be copied from one computer to another. We also know that errors can occur in this duplication process. A simple glitch in the computer can result in a letter being changed, or a sentence or paragraph being duplicated or removed. Most of these random changes would make the article less readable than the original. But such variations would not be copied. (Who would bother to Xerox a bad article?) And so eventually they would be lost. We must assume that occasionally, very rarely, a mistake in the copy would actually improve the quality of the article – making it more readable and more interesting. In such cases, the improved article would be much more likely to be copied than the original. In this fashion, articles gradually improve, often growing in length, complexity, and interest. It stands to reason, therefore, that all articles started out as a simple word, or perhaps even a single letter, which was gradually changed as it was duplicated due to errors in the duplication process and selection of the more readable variations. COMMON ORIGINAL ARTICLE It is also sensible to conclude that all articles have diverged from a common original article which itself consisted of nothing more than a single word. This is obvious by virtue of the fact that all articles have certain things in common. For example, all articles use words. And in all cases these words are organized into sentences. Many of the words used in many articles are exactly the same! For example, the word “the” appears very commonly in almost all articles. Are we to believe that this is just a coincidence? Clearly not. It is evidence that these articles share a common source. They have each diverged from a common article in the distant past. Naysayers argue that articles are written by people. But would people use the very same words in different articles? The common words, common grammar, and common sentence structure clearly point to a common origin for articles. It is reasonable to conclude that articles which share more common words and sentences are more closely related than those that have fewer common words and sentences. Clearly this extends to larger works of literature – books for example. Books are the most advanced form of literary diversification, and so they must also be the most recent. WE HAVEN'T SEEN IT HAPPEN BUT... Critics of our position (“authorists”) might object that we have never seen one article transform into a completely different article. In other words, all observed changes have been only minor transformations. But is this really surprising? After all, it would take a very long time for an article to have accumulated enough changes to be classified as a completely different article. And people simply don’t live long enough for this to happen within our lifetime. But the fact that all articles share common words is positive evidence that it has happened, even though the process is too slow to see it in its entirety today. We do see minor transformations today. And it is reasonable to conclude that these minor changes will add up to major changes over long periods of time. Some readers might be bothered by the fact that we do not have a complete record of how the simpler articles diversified into the wide variety of complex articles in our present world. But this does not in any way disqualify our basic thesis that articles do share a common original source. After all, considering the trillions of variations that must have existed and been destroyed in the vast time necessary for this process, we would expect that the record of links in the chain would be fragmentary at best. And we do know of some links. For example, there are several minor variations of the book The Hobbit. These are known to exist, and it is obvious they stem from a common original. So it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that all works of literature share a common source. THIS WOULD TAKE A LONG TIME Given the slowness of the diversification of articles, it is reasonable to conclude that articles are far older than “authorists” assume. The process of an article becoming longer and more interesting likely takes millions of years – perhaps even hundreds of millions of years. It may even happen in spurts, rapid diversification followed by long periods of relative stasis. This may account for the fact that we find so few intermediate forms in ancient libraries. NO IRREDUCIBLE SENTENCES One objection to our position is the idea that some sentences in some articles contain a degree of “irreducible complexity.” This is to say that even a minor change of any kind would make the sentence unclear or unreadable. However, this notion fails to consider that multiple simultaneous changes – though rare – can occur in the process of time. The fact that we cannot conceptualize an intermediate sentence does not actually prove that no such intermediate is possible. The process by which articles diversify from a common source is still being studied, and so we do not have the answers to every detail yet. But this does not mean that such answers will not be forthcoming in the process of time. The formation and diversification of articles from a common source is a scientific fact and well supported by the evidence even though some of the details are not yet understood. BELIEVING IN AN AUTHOR IS BLIND FAITH To assume that articles have an author is a faith position. It is a belief in something that cannot be perceived with the senses. As such, it is unscientific and should be rejected. If some people feel that they must believe in an author, that’s okay, but please remember that your view is religious and not scientific. Please don’t force it on others or teach it in school. Just think about it. This very article which you are now reading is the result of countless copying errors which gradually increased its length and complexity over time. How amazing that such a process of nature has resulted in so many wonderful works of literature! Such literature is not the result of some mysterious, unseen, undetectable “author.” It is simply the inevitable result of the mindless duplication process working over unimaginable periods of time. This article was first published on JasonLisle.com and is reprinted here with the permission. Dr. Jason Lisle is the founder of the Bible Science Institute.   QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION How do you go about telling the difference between an object formed by chance and one that has been designed? What distinguishes the designed object? How can you know this article was designed? Do we seem like the sum total of countless copying errors over millions of years? Or do we seem “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14)? Why might even non-Christians agree? Evolutionists see common elements of design – like the fact that many animals have four limbs (or like the word “the” that appears in this article and many others) – as evidence of a common origin. How would a creationist respond? Creationists and evolutionists both agree that “copying errors” (mutations) can cause changes within a species. But if we agree that mutations can cause minor variations, why don’t we believe they can, over millions of years, turn molecules into Man? What is irreducible complexity and why is it a problem for evolution? Is it more reasonable to think this article was designed, or crafted by chance? Which position requires blind faith? ...

Apologetics 101

Princeton scientists announce discovery of “sex chromosome”

Earlier this month, scientists at Princeton University published findings which could forever change the way we think about biological sex. Until now, it had been assumed that the sex of a person was determined by how a person felt. But now researchers believe that may not be so. According to the scientist leading the research, Professor Duncan Forth, the unexpected discovery came after months of painstaking work studying human cells: “We had been looking into the chromosomal structure of cells, when – quite by accident – we realized that there was a difference between one of the pairs. In some of the cells we were studying, both chromosomes were shaped like an ‘X’, but in others, only one of the pairs was shaped like this. The second chromosome was much smaller. We decided to label it ‘Y.’” The research became controversial when to Professor Forth’s surprise, one link became immediately apparent: “When we ran various tests to see which characteristics the ‘XX’ or ‘XY’ combinations correlated with, we were all amazed to see that again and again where there was an ‘XX,’ the person from which it was taken was a female, and where there was an ‘XY,’ the cells had been taken from a male.” Aware of the ramifications of the discovery, the professor nervously explained how the findings, if verified, could completely alter the way we think about biological sex and the terms male and female: “The implications would seem to be that a person is either ‘born female’ or ‘born male,’ and that their feelings actually have little or no impact. But I really can’t stress highly enough that our sample size was small, and further research could show that there is no hard and fast correlation across the population as a whole.” However, further research may not even be possible, as both the students and the university administration are expressing concerns about how the study was ever given funding in the first place. As one 2nd year biology student put it: “This place is supposed to be a place of tolerance and respect. Yet they’re funding research which is causing a lot of people pain and hurt. A lot of pain and hurt.” Others broke down in tears as they talked about what this research could mean for them if allowed to continue. One particularly distraught post-graduate sociology student wept as they opened up: “All my life I’ve been told that I can do what I want to do and be who I want to be. And that nobody has the right to deny me my rights. I truly do believe that. It’s up to me to decide whether I want to be male or female, or neither, or both. And no hate-filled pseudo-scientist or their so-called chromosomal research will ever change that.” The university’s antifascist movement has threatened to take action unless the research is stopped, the scientists sacked, and a statement issued repudiating the findings. The group’s leader was interviewed in the University Safe Space, where he was taking a break between lectures to browse through a baseball equipment catalogue. Wearing a black balaclava to protect his identity, he said the group would not tolerate the situation any longer: “There’s no way we’re going to sit by and let them get away with this vile hate in the name of science.  This kind of genetic determinism is scarily like what the Nazis thought. And if they think we’re going to tolerate Nazism in our university in 2017, they’ve got another think coming.” The controversy has also gone well beyond the university itself, with social media users lining up to condemn what they’re calling “hate research.” A barrage of criticism has been unleashed on Twitter, including: [email protected]: How dare you try to force objective reality over my feelings!!! #NoToChromosomes @Princeton bigots dare 2 tell us we can’t be who we want 2 be. #Chromofascists Rob Slane is the author of A Christian and Unbeliever discuss Life, the Universe, and Everything. No actual scientists were harmed in the crafting of this satire....

Humor, Media bias, Satire

Even a talking horse beats quiet convictions

I still remember the day I officially became an expert on everything. Many people go to school for years just to become an expert on one small particular thing so you might assume that becoming an expert on everything would be even harder and take longer. Actually it takes but one simple step: become a journalist. A journalist can be expected to write about as many as five separate subjects a day and to write about all of them knowledgeably. You might imagine that this incredible task requires the best and brightest that mankind has to offer. It may indeed but unfortunately the best and brightest are already tied up trying to extrapolate the existence of the sixth dimension based on the cube root of pi’s trillionth digit. So the task is left to whoever is silly enough to work for a starting wage of $15,000. They are the few and the desperate, yes, these are your dedicated daily information providers. As both a Christian and a newly anointed expert on everything I’m often asked: “Why is the news so biased against Christians?” The first time I was asked this question I immediately took steps to answer it as only a journalist could. Fred the hot-dog vendor was standing a scant three steps away so I pulled out my very professional looking tape recorder, held it up to Fred and then asked him the same question. Fred gave his usual thoughtful response while I got my usual chili dog and paid him $2.50 for both. I then returned to my still waiting inquisitor and repeated what Fred said with a quick “Sources say...” added in front of it. I found out rather quickly that while this technique never fails to impress when found on the printed page, it works less well in person. My inquisitor asked me the question again and, just to show she meant business, placed her clenched fists on either hip (her hips not mine), “Why is the press so biased against Christians?” Unable to avoid the question I bought her a coffee and we sat down to discuss it. She had her own theory about the press being left-wing, liberal, and full of atheists who lived just to take shots at Christians. She flipped through that day’s paper and pointed out a dozen stories that promoted gay-rights, euthanasia, or the latest evolutionary "discovery." She also mentioned that Christian and pro-family groups and politicians often complain their quotes are purposely taken out of context. While it’s obvious the press has an agenda, it’s been my experience that it is not as left-wing, liberal, atheistic as Christians believe. I explained to her that quite often the press’s agenda is far less nefarious, and can be summed up in two parts: 1) to sell as many papers as possible, and 2) to get home before lunch. This startlingly un-ominous agenda didn’t seem to please my questioner. She clenched her teeth and leaned across the table grabbing my tie to pull me close. My clip-on made this last action less intimidating than it might otherwise have been but the overall effect still captivated my attention. “So why,” she whispered hoarsely, “is the news full of so many anti-Christian stories?” As her hot breath blew over me an alarming sense of deja vu overwhelmed me. This had all happened before! But try as I might, I just couldn’t think of when or where. Sure, an ordinary man might be able to remember the last time a women he was drinking coffee with suddenly reached over and ripped off his tie. As a journalist this has happened to me far too often (thus the clip-ons – both cheaper and safer) and after a while all the separate occurrences have blurred together. Then it hit me. The situation had been quite different but the question had been exactly the same. And I had been the one asking it. It was just a year before, and I had taken a run at political office. As a small party candidate I couldn't afford paid ads, and was desperate for any free publicity I could get. That's why, when the daily paper called I did my best to take full advantage of the opportunity. I talked to that reporter for almost an hour explaining both my party’s, and my personal stances. But the reporter ignored my explanations and kept asking personal questions. I told him I wasn't important. I told him people wouldn't be voting for me as a person, but instead, would be voting for me as the only candidate who stood up for the important issues. Over and over I downplayed my own importance and stressed the issues. After a long and impassioned conversation with the reporter, the following quote appeared in the paper the next day: "There are 2,000 people who would vote for Mr. Ed as long as he was pro-life. I could be a talking horse and they would vote for me if I was pro-life." – Jon Dykstra Not quite what I was hoping for, it was by far the stupidest thing I had said. As a politician I was convinced the reporter had selected this worst possible quote because he didn’t like my Christian stances. As a trained journalist I now knew better. The simple truth is, stupidity sells papers. It doesn’t matter if you’re Christian or not, if you say something stupid the press will use it. We've seen politicians make headlines for misspelling a word, or forgetting how many states there are. I got my highlighted with a more original approach, referencing a talking horse. As one of my more compassionate friends told me later, “If stupidity sells papers, you doubled their circulation.” My recollection complete, I turned to my companion to see if this trip down memory lane had done anything to answer her question. She was staring intently at the place where my tie had been. “Stupidity?,” she asked, still staring, “Is that the whole answer?” It was not. I became a reporter to write about issues that aren't usually covered. I was determined to write about everything from AIDS to Zebras with a distinctly Christian perspective so I began the research for each new story with a few calls to pro-life, pro-family or Christian organizations and politicians. They were quite wary of the press, and as my coffee companion had already noted, they do seem to have reason to be. But they were so scared they refused to answer my questions. Of course they weren't quite as blunt as that. One place kept telling me the director was out and that she would phone me in an hour when she got in. I got the same message every hour as I regularly phoned back and finally had to give up as lunch approached. Another organization told me that only one person was allowed to speak to the press and he was away for three weeks. A few groups did get back to me, but anywhere from two days to several weeks too late. In contrast, I managed to talk to two AIDS activists in the space of a single hour. They were very cooperative and very outspoken. As an unbiased, objective and Christian reporter I absolutely refused to write all my stories with two AIDS activists as the only sources (they just didn’t add anything to my gambling story) so I sucked in my gut and decided to work after lunch. I spent my afternoons alone in the cavernous office tracking down Christians sources and experimenting with the room’s acoustics. But because I refused to go with just the most available sources, stories that should have taken half a day took more than a week. So why is the newspaper and nightly news full of anti-Christian stories? In part, because most reporters won’t take that week. If Christians want better press coverage they need to start working at it. They need to start appealing to the lazy and sensationalistic nature of the press. Our most basic beliefs are pretty radical nowadays so we already have sensationalism covered but we still need to work at appealing to the lazy nature of the press. That means, if they aren't calling us we better be calling them. This isn't as intimidating as it may sound; calling a reporter doesn't mean you personally have to give him a quote. As a "regular" person they may not even be interested in talking to you. Instead you can compile a list of Christian sources with impressive titles behind their names, people who have spent the time to become experts about one small particular thing. Admittedly, coming up with this list is no small task, what with fewer and fewer willing to speak up. But if you can come up with such a list, then when you hear or read about an issue that should have a Christian voice speaking out on it, you can phone up the reporter and give him the appropriate phone number. Many reporters don't like sounding biased, so if you can give them a ready source from the other side of an issue they may well be happy to have it. And if you’re afraid you might say something stupid, trust in God and do your best. After my idiotic Mr. Ed comment I received calls from dozens of curious voters, and the reporter found the comment interesting enough to follow it with six column inches about my campaign positions (more coverage than he gave any other fringe party candidate). After the good that came of this escapade I pinned up a little sign in my room which read “GOD Can Overcome Even Your Stupidity.” It kept me humble, but more importantly, it freed me from worry. My coffee companion wanted to blame the media’s anti-Christian stance on some kind of hidden agenda. There is some truth to that, but that’s also taking the easy way out, shifting the blame to an available scapegoat. The news media may have more than its share of liberal, left-wing, atheists, but many aren’t so much anti-Christian as lazy, and sensationalistic. These reporters take the path of least resistance and talk to the people who want to talk to them, like gays, euthanasia advocates, and other radicals desperate for publicity. They won't stir up controversies unless there are groups and politicians willing to speak out and take the hard stands. And these reporters don't have the time or patience to talk to people who will, "get back to them." It’s not just the media’s fault; it’s ours too. The news is full of anti-Christian content because Christians are too often boring, timid, and reclusive. And that’s my expert opinion. A version of this article first appeared in the magazine in 1997....

Sexuality

A is A…except when it wants to be S?

The transsexual debate and the death of logic “Hi A. It is A, isn’t it? I hardly recognized you there. It’s B. Remember me? How are you doing?” “I’m fine. Well I’m … well it’s just … I’m …” “What is it A? Is something the matter? You don’t look quite yourself.” “Look, B. There’s something I need you to know. I’m no longer known as A.” “What do you mean you’re no longer known as A, A?” “I mean I no longer identify as A. In fact, from now on I’d like you to call me S.” “S?” “Yes. S.” “I’m afraid you’ve lost me.” “Look, it’s quite simple. You’ve always known me as A, and all my life everyone told me I was A. But recently I started to question whether that’s really who I am. And the more I questioned it, the more I realized I was just the victim of social conditioning and prejudice. To put it bluntly, I’ve been brainwashed into thinking that I’m A.” “Social conditioning? Brainwashing? But A, you are A. How could you be anything else? Remember the first rule of logic: A = A and so A can’t = non-A.” “Well I simply don’t agree. In fact I believe that’s nothing but an outdated social construct.” “Social construct? But it’s an obvious truth. And it’s true for all times and all places.” “There’s nothing obvious about it whatsoever, and frankly I’m amazed that anyone living in our post-modern culture could still think it is.” “Ah, I thought as much. You’ve been listening to the post-modernists haven’t you? Well frankly I don’t much care what they say about it. It’s self-evidently true that A = A and there’s an end to it.” Do feelings make the man? “You know, B, I had always thought of you as a fairly open-minded letter. But I’m beginning to detect a quite shocking level of intolerance in you. Listen. Maybe this will persuade you. All my life I’ve had this nagging suspicion that I might be different. I’ve never much liked the way I look. That silly pointy bit at the top and that even sillier horizontal bar in the middle. And that’s just the capital “me.” Don’t get me started on the little “me”! But I’ve always admired S. Beautiful curvy letter is S. Well thankfully we’ve moved on from outmoded stereotypes that would have meant that I stayed an S trapped inside an A’s body, and I can now be any letter I want.” If gender, why not species? “But you can’t be an S. Surely you can see that?” “You know, I don’t think I’ve ever come across such a shocking level of bigotry. Why can’t I be another letter entirely, if I want to? Who are you to say what I can and can’t be?” “Why stop at a letter then? Maybe you could identify as a number. I could call you 1. Or 19 if you like. Or maybe even a duck.” “Adding sarcasm to hate speech doesn’t make it any less hateful.” “Hate speech? I said nothing hateful. But A, do you not see what will happen all if you insist on calling yourself S?” “Such as?” You already have a role to fill “Well, I don’t know how we’d get along without an A. I mean, imagine if we tried driving to Alberta without you.” “What do you mean?” “Ever tried driving to Slberts? And what about that fellow who got caught up in the tree after trying to topple his father from the throne. Now what was his name?” “Absalom?” “No. Sbsslom I think it was. Not to mention what we’ll do with the poor old SSrdvsrk. Can’t you see how ridiculous it all is?” “Well I’m not going to stand here all day being lectured by someone who is clearly a Hater and a Transletterphobe.” “You mean ‘someone who is clesrly s Hster snd s Trsnsletterphobe’? You see, all you’ve succeeded in doing by refusing to abide by the simple truth that you are A and that you cannot therefore = non-A is to sow chaos and confusion. Imagine what will happen if T wants to become C, or Y wants to become X.” “As it happens, Y is already well on her way to becoming X thank you very much. She’s a chromosome, you see. She used to be male but now identifies as X. And as for X, he’s sometimes identifying as Y. You have a problem with that?” “Well yes, actually. It’s just a clear denial of objective reality.” “Objective reality? Hah! What you need to realize is that every letter has the right to identify as whichever letter they want, and every other letter ought to respect their feelings.” Why should your feelings win? “Hmm! Fair enough. You win. I will no longer identify you as A.” “Good. Thank you.” “Instead, I shall now identify you as H.” “H? But I just told you I identify you as S, didn’t I.” “Yes you did, but your basis for doing so was based firstly on a denial of objective reality, and then on making subjective opinions and feelings your standard. And, I might add, you said we all have to respect that. Well okay, in my subjective opinion, I no longer identify you as A, or indeed as S, but as H. Are you prepared to respect that?” “But I’m S and you have no right to call me H.” “No right? So let me get this straight. You decree that there is no such thing as objective reality (A = A) and that your feelings are king. Then you insist that I accept your definition as truth and call me a hater, a bigot and a phobe if I don’t. So what you have done is to use your subjective feelings to create your own new ‘objective reality’ and insist that I accept it. Well sorry, I refuse. Two can play at that game and I say you’re an H! Now you’re not going to be a Transletterphobe, a bigot, and a hater and deny me my rights are you? Or is subjectivism taken to its logical conclusion as hard for you to bear as it is for me?” Postscript After this exchange the letter B was hauled off for tolerance training where he is learning that the right to define objective truth is the sole preserve of the Cultural Marxists who denied it in the first place. Rob Slane is the author of "A Christian & an Unbeliever Discuss: Life, the Universe & Everything" which is available at Amazon.ca here and Amazon.com here....