Archive for August, 2010

IAC Exposes IPCC Report’s Flaws

August 30, 2010

In a report that shows what skeptics have been saying all along—that global warming is mostly fabricated with little or no substantive evidence—the IPCC has been admonished for shoddy research practices by the IAC, a group of top scientific organizations across the world. (link)

If you are a believer in Global Warming or the newer Climate Change, then I’d ask you to carefully consider the report and see where the IAC went wrong. I’m sure they’d appreciate the feedback.

As it is, I can’t find any support left for believers in catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. Every report they have cited has been overturned. Every scientist on their side has been shown to be acting in bad faith or worse. There is no longer any credibility on that side of the debate.

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Glenn Beck is Right On the Money

August 30, 2010

It’s been interesting to watch how the conservative media unfolds. There are roughly two parties battling it out over the airwaves for audience and influence. One is interesting in making a living, the other is interesting in fixing the country. Oftentimes, these two people can be different facets of the same person.

I don’t think anyone truly understands what is happening within the heads of these conservative personalities who are not politicians, not even these people themselves. I genuinely believe that they genuinely believe that they are trying to do something good rather than trying to exploit someone. But this isn’t really relevant. Motivations and thoughts are of secondary importance to actions and effects.

So we are left to judge the people who show up on TV and radio and blogs not based on what they believe, but based on what they are doing and what effect they are having in our country.

Glenn Beck has inspired me. Of course, we share the same language and that means that what I hear and understand is going to be slightly different than what you hear and understand if you haven’t been active in the LDS church for an extended period of time.

But Glenn Beck appears to be inspiring a whole lot more than conservative mormons. He seems to have struck several chords in the Christian community at large, delivering a powerful message to anyone of almost any faith who has a hope to see our nation grow into an even better nation.

If that is all Glenn Beck did—inspire greatness—then we could close the book on Glenn Beck and say that he was someone who inspired countless millions of people to be something greater than they were.

But this isn’t all Glenn Beck has done. Over the weekend, he held a massive rally in Washington D.C. Who knows how many people attended. Reports range from a few dozen thousand to over a million. Seeing pictures of the crowd myself, I can’t see the end to the people and so I can’t see anyway we can count them all. Suffice it to say that a very large, and perhaps the largest crowd ever, turned out to the Lincoln Memorial for three hours.

What did they hear? They heard a sermon.

If the only thing that those people heard was the message that as a country, we have to repent and turn back to God, then Glenn Beck has become something more than just someone who inspires. He could actually be a critical force for changing our country.

I believe that a nation is a sum of its individuals, or more likely, something much more than the sum of its individuals. When those individuals are focused on a common goal, then they will likely achieve it. What is the only goal worth pursuing? Why, it is those goals that God has for us, namely eternal life and salvation. When we, as a nation, turn towards God and set our hearts and hands to do that work, then great things happen. One of the nice benefits of turning to God is that we, as a nation, prosper. Unfortunately, that leads to us turning away from God and focusing on the material wealth we have accumulated. And then we begin to suffer as we are no longer capable of retaining the wealth we had. Either this drives us further away from God or it turns us back toward Him.

Of course, this is the central theme of the Book of Mormon.

As a side note, I’ve often wondered about people who claim to be Christian and who refuse to read the Book of Mormon or even come to understand the content of the book. If the Book of Mormon is what it claims to be, then it will contain even more knowledge and understanding of Christ, and will help us draw nearer to Him. What harm could that do to a Christian? If there were any book out there, written by anyone, that drew people closer to Christ, wouldn’t every Christian encourage everyone to read it for themselves? Of course.

Regardless, the central theme of the Book of Mormon, and perhaps the reason why it was prepared for our day, is that as a nation of individuals, we must keep our hearts humble and penitent before our God. That is the only way we can survive. And having done so, and applied God’s law to the best of our ability, He will bless us with peace and prosperity. The only power in the universe that exists that can turn a single person away from their awful, natural state towards a godly, humble state is Jesus Christ himself. The story of how people change through Christ, and cannot change without Christ, is repeated on almost every page.

We, as a nation, are a Christian nation, but not because the Constitution or Declaration say so. We are a Christian nation because we are made up of Christians. Christians don’t need the government to survive. We only ask that the government protect our religion as it protects all religions, and ensures that all have the same right to worship as everyone else.

As a Christian nation, we are blessed with a certain understanding of God and Christ that other nations do not have. As such, we are held to a higher standard. We are expected to turn our hearts, minds, and souls to God through Christ. We are expected to proclaim the gospel of Christ not just within our borders, but throughout the entire earth. That is first and primary among all things we do.

As a Christian nation, as we live up to our ideals, we will be blessed with peace and prosperity. As a Christian nation, if we turn away from God and Christ, we will lose the very blessings we once had.

Glenn Beck is right on the money for pointing this out. It’s a message that used to be preached from almost every pulpit every Sunday. It’s a message that needs to be preached everywhere at all times.

That’s what our country really needs. Having done that, everything else will fall into place.

Adam Smith Gets No Love in Federal Way

August 24, 2010

A letter to the editor “Adam Smith is no moderate” in The News Tribune shows that no one is buying Adam Smith’s sudden change of heart whenever he can see November from his house.

How Many Square Feet in a Square Mile?

August 24, 2010

I was in my junior year of physics, and one of my professors laughed as he shared an old article in his thick, Eastern European accent. It was one of those articles  talking about how we are all going to run out of space if the population keeps increasing.

The article read something like this.

There are 200 million square miles on the earth. There are 4 billion people on the planet. That means there is only 250 square feet per person!

This is shocking! 250 square feet isn’t enough to even build a house. If you have an average household of 4 people, then those who have houses larger than 1,000 square feet are taking more than their fair share.

Of course, their math was wrong. There are 5,280 feet per mile, or 5,280 Ă— 5,280 square feet per square mile. That’s 27,878,400 square feet per mile. If there are 200 million square miles, then there are 6,000,000,000,000,000 square feet of land on the earth. That leaves about 1,000,000 square feet or land per person on the earth.

A similar mistake is made by Scientific American, of all places. (link) Trying to predict when we will run out of things, they make such bold prophecies. The problem is that none of this can possible be true. Thanks to the power of free markets, we are all but guaranteed an inexhaustible supply of resources. Provided, of course, that we allow the free market to work.

The way it works is this. If there is a shortage of a useful commodity, then the price will rise according to the shortage. As the price rises, people stockpile and protect the supply in hopes of future profits. This alone will ensure that we’ll always have the commodity available in one form or another to those who truly need it.

But something else happens, something that Adam Smith underestimated. That thing is innovation. As the prices rise, the incentive to find a replacement commodity or reduce our dependence on the commodity increases. Eventually, innovation will come to bear on the problem, and we’ll find ways to either more efficiently use the limited resource or find something else that solves the same problem.

Let’s suppose that we really are running out of oil. Forget, for a moment, whether or not the earth is creating oil and whether or not there is any oil yet to be discovered, and ignore all the oil that we know about but don’t want to spend the money to extract yet. For the sake of argument, let’s pretend oil is actually being used up and we’ll actually run out.

One thing that will happen immediately is the real price of oil will increase. This will cause people all over the world to use less of it. If some government wants to subsidize the oil in their country, that is fine, the country will simply have to find a place to fig up the cash to do so—likely from the same people who buy the oil.

The commodities market will react by stockpiling reserves. If we know for certain that oil is going to run out, then whoever has oil when it runs out will be a very, very rich man. This will further deplete the amount of oil available for consumption today, but will make oil available in the future. This will further drive the price up.

With the price of oil shooting through the roof, people who rely on oil will begin investing their time and resources into finding real alternatives. Whoever discovers a way to replace oil will make a handsome profit from it. And with the innovation, we won’t need oil anymore.

Unfortunately for alarmists, the earth has enough and to spare. This is because it is a creation of a loving God and not a random event. All the resources of the earth are there for us to use wisely for our benefit. And there is plenty for everyone, as long as we are willing to live according to the laws of Nature and not of man. There is enough land, water, food, and minerals for everything we need.

How Christians Should Evangelize

August 24, 2010

I’ve been following the Answers in Genesis group since I’ve discovered them some time ago. Rather than being the caricature of a creationist that their opponents make them out to be, they offer a unique and insightful view on creationism and how religion and science interact.

One of the reasons I believe they are so successful is because they understand their number one mission is to preach the gospel to those who haven’t heard it. Every article I read has something about our relationship to God and Christ.

Even though I can’t agree with everything they write (since they obviously disagree with tenets of the LDS religion), I do learn a tremendous amount from them.

An Atheist came to visit the Creation Museum and actually had an enjoyable experience. He shared his experience in a letter to the museum, which is shared online here.

Of course, the Atheist put forward a lot of effort to understand and communicate, and didn’t exhibit the characteristics Christians have learned to expect from the same. He was polite, curious, and attentive. Were all Atheists the same, I fear that many more people would listen to what they have to say.

Regardless, this is the perfect example of how sharing the gospel message should be done. The Creation Museum doesn’t hide the fact that they are trying to share the gospel message, and they present it plainly. They welcome all with open arms, and treat others as they expect to be treated. If the Atheist is ever going to become a believer, it is going to be because he felt the same friendship and love that Christ showed us first.

What a Scientific Debate Looks Like

August 23, 2010

Marc Morano who runs Climate Depot, an aggregator of skeptical articles on Global Warming, was invited to debate James Cameron, the famous director of Titanic and Avatar, the movie with the blue Indians, not the one with the kung-fu fire breathers.

James Cameron was confident that he could easily refute anything Marc Morano would say, because climate skeptics are “swine” (his words, not mine), and debating pigs should be really easy, right? However, as Marc Morano was flying from D.C. to Aspen, he ducked out of the debate.

In compensation, the climate summit gave Marc Morano 90 minutes to present his arguments and answer questions from the audience.

Except the moderator kept interrupting Morano and the audience was less than receptive to skeptical arguments that Carbon Monoxide and Carbon Dioxide are two very different substances. One is a harmless gas and the other is fatal. (link)

The audience also suggested that Marc Morano should go kill himself. I don’t know how to classify this logical fallacy. It goes beyond ad hominem and into a whole other realm. Argumentum ad suicidium? “Your arguments are so weak that rather than refute them, I’ll ask that you commit suicide. Therefore, I am right and you are wrong.”

In the end, arguing with warmists is like an Atheist trying to convert a Catholic Priest. It’s really pointless. Warmists are no more objective about their so-called science than a Catholic Priest is about Catholic doctrine. Except the Catholic Priest isn’t asking you to commit suicide.

On Clint Didier

August 21, 2010

Clint Didier is now a politician, or at best, a statesman, and not a football player. Things work differently in the political world than in the sports and competitive world.

Winners in politics are not those who are most passionate or even correct about the issues. They are those who can put together the largest groups and unite them with their cause.

In the case of Dino Rossi, we know what his cause is, and we know that he can not only unite republicans from both sides, but also bring in a good chunk of democrats too.

In the case of Clint Didier, either he hasn’t defined his cause well enough or he hasn’t rallied enough people to it. I agree with a lot of what Clint Didier has to say, but he has to convince me that he is the guy who is best to carry the banner, as opposed to the other guys. Clearly, he has failed in that, at least for this go around.

Clint Didier has a choice. He can either continue to divide the conservative cause and try to drive a wedge between him an Dino Rossi, thus giving Patty Murray the election, or he can rally his troops behind Dino Rossi, and take this opportunity to learn how to campaign with someone who is quite good at it.

Unfortunately, Clint Didier isn’t choosing to unite with Dino Rossi, and that is all of our losses.

Burn a Koran Day

August 21, 2010

A Church in Gainesville, FL is holding a “Burn a Koran Day” at their church, despite not being allowed a city permit. (link)

Now, I would never burn a Koran. It simply isn’t Christian. Offending an entire group of people doesn’t help spread the Good News that Christ is risen and we all must repent and follow Him. I strongly encourage the church to rethink its mission, which should be to baptize all the nations, and consider whether Christ would burn Korans.

However, I believe that people should be allowed, by the government, to do things like this. I don’t see how we can stop anyone from burning Korans, nor can I see a state or society interest in doing so.

I do believe, however, that making death threats to those who wish to burn Korans is something that we can’t allow. Everyone who makes a death threat against these people should be found out and punished for their crimes. We cannot have a civil society as long as a group of people are willing to kill for anything less than life. That is, we should not kill unless someone’s life is in danger and there is no other way to protect that life. Since the Koran-burners lives are in danger, we are free to exercise our power to kill against those threatening their lives.

Muslims who believe that they have a religious duty to kill those who burn Korans can not integrate with our society. We do not allow people to practice religions that are at odds with the foundations of our liberty. (That’s why you can’t perform human sacrifice even if you do worship the devil.)

Any Muslim who believes killing those who burn Korans is justified should be barred from entering our country on any terms, even diplomatic ones. If it is preached, then the preacher should be imprisoned or removed from our country, and perhaps executed if someone carries out their preachings to their conclusion. We should declare war against such a religion, just as we have declared war on the Nazi political party, which believed killing Jews was a great idea. Put simply, there isn’t room enough in this world for our two religions, our state religion that teaches all men are equal and have unalienable rights to life, liberty and property, and any other religion that denies such.

If you are a Muslim who doesn’t believe killing the Kafir for burning Korans is justified, but believes life, all life, is sacred, then you are compatible with our state religion and should be welcomed with open arms. We welcome all people who love life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

21st Century Enlightenment

August 20, 2010

There is an interesting video on a humanistic approach to the interesting topic of “enlightenment” in the Western sense. (link) It’s difficult to tell what the talented speaker and cartoonist are trying to describe, but I think I can boil it down to this. What the world needs is not so much more information and technology, and not even more wealth. What we need is more empathy for our fellow man.

The video then goes on to think about what the ultimate goal of our world’s society should be. Although we are tremendously good at getting what we want, we don’t really know what we want.

This is the important question that only has hollow answers unless you turn to religion, and especially those religions which embrace the true and living God.

On human empathy, we have a word for this in scripture, and it is “charity”. It is the ultimate aim of all the commandments—to love God and to love our fellow man.

Why love God? Because God is perfect, and we need to look towards perfection for all of life’s decisions.

Why love our fellow man? Until you love your fellow man as yourself, meaning you love yourself as well, that is impossible to answer. Having experienced that love to some degree for myself, I can only say that it is one of those self-evident truths. We need to love our fellow man because we need to love our fellow man.

The scriptures warn us that all the piety in the world is pointless unless we have charity. All of everything is pointless as well. I don’t need to find scriptures to explain this. They are far too abundant.

Humanists who embrace the necessity for man to love each other cannot disagree with the Christian commandment to love all people as themselves. Any religion which teaches this as a matter of religion that is not up for debate is a good one.

Secondly, we need to have a clear goal of what we are to become. Some people imagine a technological future where we have augmented our bodies with technology or science, where we live infinite immortal lives and where we have solved every care in the world and answered ever desire we could ever have. Unfortunately, such a future is empty and pointless, again, because without charity, we are nothing.

The point is that charity isn’t a means to an end, it is an end, the only end worth pursuing.

You may be familiar with some of my religion’s beliefs, that religion being the Mormon one. You may have heard that we believe man may become like God, or even equal with God. That is true. But what is curiously missing from this question is how we teach each other we can become like God.

Again, charity. Everything in this life is designed to teach us simply to love each other with all our hearts, might, mind and strength. This world was created for that very purpose, and everything that happens to you every waking moment is to help us learn that lesson. Whether we choose to pay attention and change our behavior and thus our attitudes is up to us, because love means not replacing someone else’s will with your own, even if one of the parties is God.

If we, as a race of humans on this planet earth hurtling through space on some unknown mission, simply embrace charity as our guiding star, then we will be well off.

I would hope also to point out the complete futility of trying to embrace charity without embracing the embodiment of that attribute, which is Jesus Christ and His Father. Only He demonstrated through His life how we mortal beings can become full of charity. And only by focusing our attention and devotion to Him can we ever hope to be anything like Him. Again, it’s not a matter of piety, but it is a matter of charity. First, love God. Then love your fellow beings.

Let us, in this century, turn away from our petty cares and turn our attention to the true and living God, the God of Love. Let us hope to obtain for ourselves the trait of charity in our very beings.

The Government Con Game

August 19, 2010

The democrats, and quite a few republicans, in office are playing a con game on us.

A con game involves a few people pulling off the con. These people will play any part, do anything, and say anything to get the con to work.

Then there is the mark—the person they are trying to con.

A good con artist gains the complete confidence of the mark. That’s why it’s called a con.

The con is this. People convince others that government is a force for good and should be entrusted with much more than just protecting the rights of the individual. A whole bunch of marks fall for the fancy language and slick ideas of the con artists, and join in the con.

It doesn’t really matter how many people see through the con if there are enough people being conned. After all, a minority in the United States really doesn’t have control of government.

The only way you can convince the marks that the con man isn’t doing what’s in their best interest is to give them a bird’s eye view of what is happening. If you could show them, for instance, that money went from their pocket to the con artist’s pocket, and they didn’t get anything worthwhile in exchange, then the mark would suddenly become smart about the whole thing.

After all, the best way to avoid a con is to follow the money. Ignore the cards, ignore the shell game, ignore the investments—follow the money!

If the money ends up in the hands of the con artist and you don’t get anything back, then it’s a con.

Gratefully, this congress and president are so confident in their own con game that they are making mistakes to expose the con for what it is. As the people lose their jobs, as our economy goes south, as we endure the Great Recession, government officials are getting fat and rich.

President Obama can take as many vacations as he likes to any place in the world. Congressmen and senators are living the life of the super-rich. Government employees are making a mountain more money than the private sector.

Now, once the mark sees the con for what it is, he can try to join the con, or he can end it once and for all.

If we elect strong conservatives this November who believe government’s only role is to protect individual rights, then we will be calling the con off.

If we look for jobs in the public sector, or keep pretending like the con is real, then we will be joining in the con.

How far can this con go? Atlas Shrugged should give a hint as to what will eventually happening. John Galt isn’t in the United States economy anymore, and we only have our government to blame.