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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Selective outrage by the liberal media and its consequences

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of many mainstream media. Everyone knows most cable news channels have a liberal slant. You know what, though? I would even watch liberal news shows if they presented the news. What we have instead is a bunch of channels presenting half-truths and radical opinions with the objective of smearing republicans and excusing democrats. They're not news shows – they're the propaganda arm of the DNC.

A recent example was this non-response of a CNN panel to the Kathy Griffin photo/video showing her holding the severed head of Donald Trump. Jake Tapper introduces the clip calling Griffin's photo, “disgusting” and saying, “it's hard to imagine how anyone would think that's appropriate.” As he is saying this, though, you can hear him chuckle so obviously he's not overly disgusted and certainly not outraged. This is about as harsh a criticism the panel can muster.

Next, Tapper quotes Donald Trump, Jr as saying, “This is now considered to be acceptable discourse by the left,” and turns it over to his panel for discussion. Molly (I don't even know her last name because most CNN contributors are that unimportant to me) and Tapper share another chuckle before she admits, “I have a hard time bringing myself to even care about something like this.” She even goes so far as to blame the Trumps for making a big deal about this saying it, “speaks to the need to see themselves as the victim.” The remaining two panelists added nothing except to say that there are bigger issues than Kathy Griffin.

There were no calls to tone down the rhetoric. There were no pleas for people to come together. It was just pompous rebukes by liberal elitists telling the Trumps to stop whining.

I don't watch CNN. I guess most people don't watch CNN. Conan O'Brien said the only people who watch CNN are the people who clean the offices at CNN. Now that's funny. Anyway, the only reason I'm writing about this is to draw attention to the precise reason I don't watch shows like CNN.

Most people will remember from before the election, the leaked audio tape of Donald Trump joking with a male reported. In a high school like display of machismo, in what was thought to be a private conversation, Trump bragged that women will let a celebrity grope and kiss them. For months there was non-stop coverage about how Trump is a sexual predator and misogynist. CNN has held on to it like a dog with a bone. Now, a high-profile celebrity, in an intentional attempt to incite, holds up a terrorist-like image of her holding the bloody head of the President, and CNN says... meh.

The left calls Trump divisive. That's a laugh. They see an evil motive when Trump doesn't attend the White House Correspondents' Dinner. They shout “unfair” that the President gets two scoops of ice cream. But they can't even bring themselves to care about Griffin's incendiary display. //RKBentley shakes his head//

The selective outrage of liberal media has consequences that reach far beyond a lack of viewers. Kathy Griffin recently held a press conference which, in my opinion, was probably her funniest performance ever. In it she lamented that Trump is a bully who is trying to ruin her career. Hilarious, right? I mean, come on – Griffin poses with the President's severed head and Trump responds in a Tweet saying she is sick and should be ashamed. Now she's the victim? Excuse me while I have a chortle.

Griffin also expressed her concerns over the death threats she's been getting because of this. Here's the problem: for months, conservative pundits like Ann Coulter, Ben Shapiro, and Milo Yiannopoulos have received real threats when they appear somewhere to speak. These aren't anonymous letters or emails – they're rioters who wear masks and burn buildings. Black Lives Matter protesters march in the streets and chant they want dead cops now! The mainstream fake news media simply makes excuses and tries to distance the violence from the ideology. The typical liberal commentator usually starts with something like, “I don't condone violence but....”

The violent rhetoric has reached a fevered pitch and it's all coming from the left. The response from the right has been relatively mild. How far will CNN and news outlets let the line be pushed? If the political rhetoric needs be toned down, they need to stop providing cover to the purveyors of the worst hate speech.

There have been other folks on CNN who have been a little more firm in their condemnation of Griffin but her actions were so far over the line they simply realize there's no excusing it this time. I think if there hadn't been a history of complicity between liberal media and the Democrat party, Griffin might have thought twice before doing the photo shoot. When the people who are supposed to report the news sit silently by while mobs riot and threaten, it allows the violence to escalate.

CNN, I don't care that no one watches you. I hope you lose more viewers. I hope your station goes bankrupt. I wish I could hurry it along. I'm just sorry that you've endured this long.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Why even teach evolution?

I don't have anything against education. As a matter of fact, if I won the lottery and didn't have to work anymore, I'd be a professional student for the rest of my life. I love learning. Some people like to study very narrow subjects – something like Russian literature. These might not be very practical degrees to have when you look for a job but, if you like Russian literature, then go for it. Studying evolution is sort of like studying Russian literature. No, it's actually more like studying Big Foot. There's no practical use to it, really, but if you're interested in pseudo-science, then the theory of evolution is for you. I won't stop you – not that I could anyway – but I do object to the way evolution is being taught in many public schools now.

Several years ago, I wrote about a NY Times article that talked about teaching evolution in the classroom. The article cited a dilemma faced by a FL biology teacher:

ORANGE PARK, Fla. — David Campbell switched on the overhead projector and wrote “Evolution” in the rectangle of light on the screen.
He scanned the faces of the sophomores in his Biology I class. Many of them, he knew from years of teaching high school in this Jacksonville suburb, had been raised to take the biblical creation story as fact. His gaze rested for a moment on Bryce Haas, a football player who attended the 6 a.m. prayer meetings of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the school gymnasium.
If I do this wrong,” Mr. Campbell remembers thinking on that humid spring morning, “I’ll lose him.”

Never mind the Constitutional concerns for a moment, where a government employee sees it as his personal mission to rid his students of a religiously held belief, I'm more interested in this idea that learning evolution is somehow critical to kids' education. Bill Nye, my arch-nemesis (at least, my “would be” arch-nemesis,” if he knew I existed), is on record for saying the following:

[T]here are more people in the world — another billion people all trying to use the world’s resources. And the threat and consequences of climate change are more serious than ever, so we need as many people engaged in how we’re going to deal with that as possible.... My biggest concern about creationist kids is that they’re compelled to suppress their common sense, to suppress their critical thinking skills at a time in human history when we need them more than ever.... There are just things about evolution that we should all be aware of, the way we’re aware of where electricity comes from.

I'm just puzzled by this idea that a kid can't understand technology or science unless he believes in evolution. I've seen no evidence, anywhere, to support the idea that people who believe in creation suffer academically (except perhaps being discriminated against by teachers). Furthermore, I've never seen a compelling example of how a belief in evolution is critical to any other field of study.

I've linked before to an article by Dr. Jerry Bergman: a survey of college text books showed that most barely discuss evolution. The anatomy and physiology text books examined didn't mention evolution at all. Of the colleges surveyed in Ohio and Michigan, biology majors were required to only take one class in evolution. Also from the article, National Academy of Science Member and renown carbene chemist, Professor emeritus Dr. Philip Skell of Pennsylvania State University (see Lewis, 1992), did a survey of his colleagues that were “engaged in non-historical biology research, related to their ongoing research projects.” He found that the “Darwinist researchers” he interviewed, in answer to the question, “Would you have done the work any differently if you believed Darwin's theory was wrong?” that “for the large number” of persons he questioned, “differing only in the amount of hemming and hawing” was “in my work it would have made no difference.”

If colleges are supposed to be equipping scientists in their various fields of research, they must not think evolution is very important, considering it's barely mentioned. And you can see that even people who work in biology have admitted that evolution isn't really relevant to their research. Consider this too: can anyone name a single invention or technological advance in the last century that hinged upon an understanding of evolution? Maybe somebody could name one but that is dwarfed by the virtual explosion of technology we've seen in the last 100 years that didn't depend on evolution at all!

If evolution is so ancillary to science, if there is no study linking understanding evolution to improved test scores, if evolution is something that kids learn in school but never use again, then why is there this grim determination that students still must learn evolution? We're facing an education crisis where kids lack proficiency in critical skills like reading, math, and history. Why are we wasting time and resources teaching them a skill that is so useless yet still so controversial? Why force public schools into court to defend a sticker in a text book or to remove a teacher who mentions creation? Let's just stop the controversies altogether. I'm not saying, “give equal time to creation.” I'm not saying, “teach the difficulties.” I'm saying stop teaching evolution!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Heidi Baker, drunk in the Spirit?

Anyone who has reads my blog regularly could probably guess that I'm a cessationist. While I don't agree with the continuation of charismatic gifts (tongues, prophecy, etc), neither do I usually condemn too harshly people who feel they have these gifts. I believe many people who “speak in tongues,” for example, are likely simply overwhelmed emotionally and are acting out in the same way they've seen others act. It may not be genuine but it may still be sincere. However, there are other people who, I believe, are being deceitful.

I've seen many videos like this but here is another one I've come across recently. It features Heidi Baker acting, “drunk in the Spirit.” The whole notion of acting drunk is rooted from a verse in Acts 2. At Pentecost, when the apostles were gathered together in a room, the Holy Spirit came upon them like a flame of fire and they began speaking in tongues. The apostles were all Galilean but the people gathered there, from many different nations, could understand the apostles in their native language. They were amazed and perplexed by this sign but v. 13 tells us that some mocked them saying, “They are full of sweet wine (aka, “drunk”).” Some people in the charismatic movement understand this verse to mean the apostles must have appeared to be drunk while the Holy Spirit moved them.

I couldn't find a link to the original footage; this one has been edited down to about 20 minutes. Even though it's been edited, there are long segments of uninterrupted footage that are enough to convince me the edited video is likely a fair representation of the whole. As always, I invite you to watch the video for yourself. I would hate to be accused of mischaracterizing Ms. Baker's action. As you watch it, keep an eye out for the following tell-tale signs that make me think she's pretending the whole time.

First, Ms. Baker seems to have trouble standing. Sometimes, she's kneeling with her head against the lectern. Another time, she's lying prostrate on the floor with her hands beside her. Through all of this, though, she never seems to have any trouble keeping the microphone to her mouth. Isn't that interesting? I will admit, there have been a few times in my youth when I drank too much. I remember one time in particular that I couldn't seem to hold my glass upright. It seemed that if I just stood, holding the glass without paying attention, I would let the glass tilt and spill some drink. I wasn't even “falling down” drunk like Ms. Baker seems to be. If I couldn't keep from spilling my drink, I find it incredible she constantly remembered – and was able – to keep the microphone to her mouth.

I noticed too, at the end of the video, you can see the drummer has slipped into position behind her as she starts the invitation. What am I supposed to conclude from that? Does he have the gift of knowing exactly when someone's “anointing” will end? More likely, it was nearing the allotted time Ms. Baker was given to speak and he knew she was about to start wrapping it up. That's further evidence it was an act.

From a theological perspective, there were a few other things that concerned me. Acts 2 says the apostles, were speaking of the mighty deeds of God (v. 11). Ms. Baker spent the majority of her time speaking about herself. As if her actions weren't obvious enough, she would constantly say things like (paraphrasing), Look how “toasted” I am, You must think I'm weird, Why would the church allow someone like me speak? Imagine that someone is speaking in tongues, but keeps stopping to say, “Listen, I'm speaking in tongues!” That's how I see Ms. Baker's performance.

Finally, there is the matter of the “tongues” Ms. Baker continuously spoke. At Pentecost, when the apostles spoke in tongues, everyone gathered there understood what was being said. They heard the words in their own language – even their own dialect. Some of the words Ms. Baker spoke were gibberish. I certainly didn't understand them. Her performance didn't resemble at all the scene described in the Bible.

In the 1970s, Foster Brooks played a lovable drunk. He was funny. Ms. Baker? Not so much. I've heard she has done a lot of missionary work in Mozambique. I know that she and her husband started Iris Global ministries. But do I just ignore foolish displays like this because of the good work she's done? Folks like this claim they are being moved by the Spirit but when you can see they're not, it makes their claims blasphemy. They're taking the Lord's name in vain which is no small thing. I can't just sit by, watching behavior like this, and not say something.

I'm sadden most by the people who sit in services like this and laugh along. I'm reminded of 2 Timothy 4:3, the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires. These people seem less interested in learning the word of God and more interested in being entertained. Ms. Baker was eager to oblige them. I implore people to be more Berean (Acts 17:11). Study your Bibles.  We should be anxious to hear the word whenever it is preached but we need to compare what is preached to the Scriptures to see if it is true!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Stop spouting facts... the science is settled!

According to Wikipedia, scientism is a term used to describe the universal applicability of the scientific method and approach, and the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or the most valuable part of human learning—to the exclusion of other viewpoints. Followers of scientism tend to be zealots, more devout even than the average followers of traditional religions. What makes them especially stubborn is that they tend to not think of their beliefs as their “religion;” instead, they think scientism is simply the default way of thinking for any person and so they cannot comprehend any argument made from a different point of view. To them, if something can't be examined scientifically, it can't be true.

Now, you would think that people who practically worship science would welcome scientific debate. They say they do. Actually, they brag that they do. In the new Cosmos series, Neil deGrass Tyson offered these five, simple rules for science:

(1) Question authority.
(2) Think for yourself.
(3) Test ideas by the evidence gained from observation and experiment.
(4) Follow the evidence wherever it leads.
(5) Remember: you could be wrong.

Ignore the self-contradiction going on here – like, how can someone test the idea that we should test ideas by evidence? My point in citing these “rules” is to show how skepticism is supposed to be at the heart of science. According to Tyson, I'm not supposed to accept a conclusion just because someone in authority says it's true. I'm supposed to think for myself. Right? I could be wrong but maybe it's the person making the claim who is wrong.

There are real scientists who are skeptics. At the risk of sounding cliché, scientific advancement often comes when people think outside of the box. Science Alert once published a list of 8 scientific papers that were rejected during peer review before going on to win a Nobel Prize. Obviously, these authors were on to something and the scientific establishment just couldn't see it. How often has one radical idea, one that other scientists may have thought sounded crazy, turned out to be true? Maybe we should ask Galileo.

Devout members of scientism aren't skeptics. They claim to be but they aren't. They blindly follow the majority opinion without question. You can often identify them by their frequent use of the phrase, “The science is settled.” To them, truth is whatever is accepted by a majority of scientists. Anyone who disagrees is considered a heretic. Actually, they don't call them heretics – they call them, “science deniers” but, in scientism, it means the same thing. Doubters of some scientific theory aren't ever called “skeptics” or “free thinkers;” they're “deniers.”

Let me give you a few examples of scientism's doctrine. The first is obviously evolution. I cannot tell you the number of times I've heard rabid evolutionists defend their theory by saying no credible scientist denies that evolution happened. Note the use of the word “credible,” but never mind blatant No True Scotsman fallacy. Truth is not decided by popular vote. Evolutionists often refuse to debate creationists on the grounds that “the science is settled,” “there is no debate among scientists whether evolution is true,” and debating the theory with a creationists gives the impression there is still doubt over the theory. Followers of scientism want to squelch any dissent over evolution by suing public schools who want to “teach the difficulties,” rejecting any creationist paper submitted for peer review, and even protesting a privately funded, religious organization like the Creation Museum.

Another long standing doctrine of this godless faith is climate change. Once upon a time, it was called “global warming” but after decades of no noticeable increase in the global, mean temperature, they had to replace “warming” with the much more ambiguous term, “change.” Actually, none of the dire predictions made by these alarmists have happened. In 2008, ABC aired a video montage showing all the terrible things that would happen by 2015 because of climate change: New York flooding, hundreds of miles of scorched earth, and skyrocketing food and fuel prices. I remember 2015. It was nothing like the predictions made by the video but followers of scientism aren't embarrassed by their failed predictions; The “science is settled” concerning climate change and bad things are going to happen unless we do something now. //RKBentley shakes his head//

Bill Nye was recently embarrassed by Tucker Carlson when he tried to pull that “the science is settled” crap. Carlson was asking basic questions about climate change and Nye was obviously making up the answers. Before we spend trillions of dollars on this “crisis,” we need to have some answers: the most fundamental question is, is there even any warming? The trend for the last few decades says no. If it is happening, to what extent are humans causing it? If we could stop warming, should we? What is the earth's temperature supposed to be? Every air-breathing animal produces carbon dioxide. Humans produce about 2 pounds of CO2 per day. Even if we converted the entire world to 100% emission-free energy, humans will still produce billions of pounds of CO2 every day just by breathing. How can that be bad? Plants require CO2. What will happen to our forests if we could reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere? These are legitimate questions but they are heresy to dogma-driven zealots like Nye. A real scientist on CNN recently brought up some of these points and Nye scolded CNN for, having one climate change skeptic, and not 97 or 98 scientists or engineers concerned about climate change.

The most recent political discussion which followers of scientism have weighed in on is the transgender issue. Scientists now “know” that things like gender identity or even our biological sex aren't immutable but exist on a spectrum. You would think that after 6,000 years of human history, the science would at least be settled about who is a male and who is a female. Wrong! Now we're being told that doctors sometimes got it wrong when they checked “male” or “female” on a birth certificate. I'm a 51 year old white guy. Why can't I identify as a 65 year old person and start receiving social security? Why can't I say I'm a black guy and maybe qualify for affirmative action programs? But I can say I'm a woman and folks like Nye will rush to defend my delusion as being normal, usual, and healthy. Anyone who disagrees is a hate-filled, homophobic, bigot. Colleges are adopting strict policies requiring the use of gender-neutral pronouns. If I call a female, “she,” suddenly I'm the one who has the problem. Several years ago, I wrote about California's ban on gay-conversion therapy for minors. Really? So after little Johnny was abused by an uncle, he seeks help because he doesn't like the sexual feelings he now has toward men and the only acceptable response is, “You're gay, Johnny, you can't change it. You'd better learn to live with it!”

Bill Nye has said that being a creationist suppresses critical thinking. I believe Nye's religion of scientism is a far worse assault on critical thinking than being a creationist could ever be. He does not want debate. “Science deniers” must be ridiculed and insulted until they have lost all credibility. Maybe they should even be put in prison. Nye and folks like him have their minds are made up. Stop confusing them with facts. The science is settled.