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Archive for March, 2008

As if anyone cares about my bracket performance

Posted by Chance on March 31, 2008

I am 3 for 4 in the Final Four. I picked Kansas, UCLA, and North Carolina to go, who all made it. Instead of Memphis, however, I picked Stanford. Memphis is a team I greatly underestimated, and after seeing them dismantle Texas, who rolled over teams they played, I think Memphis is for real. Unfortunately, just about everyone in my group picked the same teams.

I picked UCLA to beat NC in the final. I am rooting for Kansas though.

Posted in Sports | 2 Comments »

Not looking like the world

Posted by Chance on March 29, 2008

One thing about Christianity is that I believe it is supposed to stand out from the world’s philosophy. In the New Testament there is a continual theme of being set apart. Jesus said the world would hate us because they hated him.

18″(Y)If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.
19″If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but (Z)I chose you out of the world, (AA)because of this the world hates you.

Paul says

20Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

John continues this theme.

Some things in Christianity do, in fact, coincide with values found in secular circles. Feeding the hungry, taking care of the poor, loving your neighbor as yourself, these are not really controversial values. Applying them is difficult, but the concept is not.

But at some point, Christianity should deviate from the philosophy of the world. I’m not saying we should add things to it that purposely irritate non-believers, but I do believe there is plenty within Christianity that should irritate people already. Usually, Christians are blamed for people being turned off on Christianity, and yes, that can be the case many times. But could it be that sometimes people just don’t like Jesus?

The reason I bring this up is that it seems, more and more, some of Christianity is being shaped to be conformed to the world. The parts about loving your neighbors, Jesus being a swell guy, all that stuff seems to remain. But other facets seem to be disappearing in certain circles. Miracles turn out to not really be miracles, but maybe just something that could be explained with science, that people only thought were miracles. Certain standards of morality that do coincide with the world seem to remain (take care of the less fortunate) while those peculiar to accepted norms seem to disappear. Now people can disagree on what the Bible states, I think there are honest people on both sides of certain issues, but I can’t help but see general trends.

This seems to be happening with the stories of Jesus. Fortunately, most people in Christendom do in fact, believe Jesus died a barbaric death and rose again. But I do wonder if much of the focus is on Jesus being a swell person, maybe even a nice guy, telling us to love one another and telling off the religious establishment. But so much of Jesus’ teachings focus on himself. Jesus had difficult teachings. He affirmed that he was the only way to the Father. Yes, he taught us how to live good lives, but so much hinged on his identity.

To the world in general, Jesus has been diluted. Jesus is accepted by the world at large as some good religious leader, a nice guy (and I don’t think he was even that). But as Josh McDowell points in in More than a Carpenter, Jesus doesn’t really leave such a lukewarm reception of himself available. The guy who says he is Jesus Christ, Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda, I haven’t really heard his teachings, but the fact that he says something like that, that pretty much turns me off to anything else he has to say. It should be the same with Jesus. A guy who says he is God himself, who says that he is the only way to God, if we don’t believe these things, he is either psychotic or evil. Saying that he is simply a nice guy is weak.

There is some reasonable agreement within Christianity, and there is someone who I have been conversing with concerning these issues, and believe me when I say this post is not really addressed to you (not completely anyway). I’m not saying we should try to make Christianity as controversial as possible, but if our whole philosophy is indistinguishable from the world’s, we should reevaluate some of our core beliefs. All I know is this, it seems that in some circles of Christianity, the hard parts of the Bible, anything that doesn’t jibe with the world are being dismissed: most anything remotely supernatural, the moral standards that don’t coincide with today’s cultural norms, the difficult teachings of Jesus, to name a few. Before you know it, you know longer have a book that talks about God’s awesome displays of power, a book that tells us to be set apart from the world, the book that tells us about a man who was truly radical. Now you have some document that essentially talks about a nice guy who tells us to love other people. As if I couldn’t get that somewhere else. This goes along with the world’s philosophy just fine.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Is there a conflict between science and Christianity?

Posted by Chance on March 20, 2008

It is often assumed that the Christian must turn off their thinking caps when it comes to science, that they must reject cold hard evidence in favor of believing in their faith.

But I’m not sure such conflicts exist, at least not as often as people think. Nowhere does this conflict seem more apparent than in the area of evolution.

Now, when one asks, “do you believe in evolution”, one has to consider that the word “evolution” is a loaded term. Does it mean evolution within a species, evolution across species, natural selection, etc… I think Christians can have a knee-jerk reaction to the term “evolution” and condemn it as evil, without considering what is meant by the term.

The real conflict is not necessarily between “evolution” and Christianity, but the Christian view of creation vs. the view of the universe being designed by random, purposeless forces. I do think there are parts of evolutionary theory that could be compatiable with Christianity. The point is, I know there is a divine being that created the universe, and that the Bible gives testimony to this God. Even with this belief, I believe there is room to believe that natural selection can hold true in the animal kingdom and that certain species have changed over time. Maybe even species have branched out into other species, who knows? I am not a biologist, so I’m not saying these things necessarily happened, I am just saying it is possible to believe in some aspects of evolution and not be a heathen.

That being said, I don’t think man has evolved from the original design. At least not very much. If one follows the dating of the Bible, man is about 6000 years old. I don’t think there would be much time for mankind to change on an evolutionary scale.

Unfortunately, evolutionists typically use the parts that are true or may be true to extrapolate to creation and mankind as a whole. For example, one may use the fact that a certain species changes to outside forces – natural selection on a small scale – and use it to conclude natural selection on a large scale. Small scale changes caused by random processes are used to infer that processes causing original life were also random.

I asked my wife, who graduated in Zoology, what the evidence was for evolution. The main pieces of evidence are the homologous structures (similar skeletal structures among different parts of the animal kingdom) and fossil records. I don’t know a whole lot about the fossil evidence, someone can help me out if they wish, but I do think that if you find a collection of bones, you don’t necessarily know if they were some primate or a less evolved version of homo sapien. Concerning bone structure, that could lead one to believe in evolution, but it can also be explained by design.

Christians are sometimes accused of looking for “God in the gaps.” That is, something seems complex, so God must have done it.* But I feel that in the scientific community, the view of all life resulting from evolution has the same aspect. It’s like “We don’t think there is a God, evolution is the only possible explanation.” The Truth Project by Focus on the Family says that science is no longer sticking to experimental observations, but it is trying to answer the fundamental questions of mankind. I think that is a valid point.

In short, there are aspects of evolutionary theory that are reasonable and are not incompatible with the idea that God created the universe and man. However, I believe evolutionists take the noncontroversial parts and use them to push God out of the picture. I think that this worldview that is adopted by many in the scientific community simply doesn’t hold water.

*I’m not saying that we can’t attribute the fact that life is so complex to an ultimate designer, I think it is one of the evidences of the creator, I’m only trying to make a point here.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

This is pretty scary

Posted by Chance on March 12, 2008

According to the San Francisco Chronicle:

A California appeals court ruling clamping down on homeschooling by parents without teaching credentials sent shock waves across the state this week, leaving an estimated 166,000 children as possible truants and their parents at risk of prosecution.
[…]
“California courts have held that … parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children,” Justice H. Walter Croskey said in the 3-0 ruling issued on Feb. 28. “Parents have a legal duty to see to their children’s schooling under the provisions of these laws.”

Unbelievable.

Hat tip to the Market Power Blog. I heard it there first.

Posted in Politics | 4 Comments »

Why expand the field?

Posted by Chance on March 12, 2008

There’s been a lot of talk about expanding the NCAA Basketball tournament from the present number of 65 teams (counting the play-in game).

My question is why? For those unfamiliar, teams are ranked from 1 seed(best)-16 seed, with four #1s, four #2s, etc… The lowest seed to win the tournament was Villanova as an 8 seed in 1985. Every once in a while a seed lower than that will win the tournament. Yes, maybe some teams more deserving were left out while others get in, as no system is perfect. However, when you get into the lower seeds, the odds are so small of running the tables anyway. Already, the lower half of the tournament has such a long shot anyway. If multiple low-ranked teams making it to the Final Four was a regular occurrence, I would think the seeding and the invitations needed quite a bit of work. But we see only see it as an irregular occurrence.

Probably the best argument in favor of expanding the field is that teams in the smaller school conferences have a smaller chance of getting in. Many times only the conference champ gets a shot. Is there any other good arguments in favor that I’m not seeing?

Posted in Sports | 3 Comments »

The tricky issue of immigration

Posted by Chance on March 11, 2008

Concerning immigration, I am far from an expert in this issue. But I wanted to pen down my thoughts on issues as I see them. There are three parts of the issue I see.

1) Who do we let in?
2) What do they have to do to be let in?
3) What do we do with the people who are here illegally?

Concerning 3) I’m really not sure. This has been a point of contention among the Republican nominees. I don’t want to reward breaking the law. At the same time, there are issues of practicality to consider. How much would it cost, and how effective would it be to deport a large number of illegal aliens? I would think, a lot, and not very. I’m not saying we should do nothing, I just don’t know what exactly.

2) Again, I’m not sure. I think it should be fairly easy for those who want to come here to actually come here. There could probably be some requirement that somebody in the family actually get a job within a certain amount of time.

Concerning the English language, well, that’s a whole other ball of wax. I don’t think there should be an official language, but at the same time, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask that immigrants know some basic English for everyday tasks, i.e. passing a drivers test. Concerning schooling, a purpose of schools are to teach people to be somewhat functional people, so I do believe English should be taught to all students. I know this issue seems more complicated the more I talk about it, so I’d be interested in a teacher’s or school administrator’s perspective on this issue.

1) This is the one I have the strongest opinion. I think the primary concern here is national security. I would support not letting someone in if there was a reasonable concern about the person from a homeland security perspective. I tend to take the more libertarian/free market position that immigration should not be capped based on economic issues. Yes, there is a real human face to this issue that concerns people losing their jobs. However, I also believe that the market is self-regulating in this aspect in that we have the immigrant inflow because of a vacuum in parts of the work force. Also, I believe the net effect for the economy is positive, even for the everyday person.

Also, some people want to cap immigration for cultural considerations, but I don’t think this is a fruitful, or even desirable exercise. From a Christian perspective, there are concerns about other religions or cultures contrary to Christianity seeping into America, and that is a legitimate concern. However, I just don’t think turning away outsiders is the right approach. America has been the land of opportunity for those seeking a better life, and I think we should continue to be so. I like Ronald Reagan’s vision of America being a “city on the hill.”

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments »

One of my pet peeves

Posted by Chance on March 11, 2008

Why, at a red stoplight, do the people at the front scoot forward while they anticipate the light turning green? Does the extra half a foot or so really help them get a head start. Maybe it’s the fact they are going 1 mile per hour as opposed to 0 when the light turns green. Who knows?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

I saw Rocky for the first time

Posted by Chance on March 10, 2008

The original Rocky has been one of those movies that I’ve been embarrassed to say that I never watched. So, I moved Rocky and Rocky Balboa(the 6th movie in the series) to the top of the Netflix Queue.

I was surprised at how good both movies were. I dare say that the endless stream of sequels may have tarnished the legacy in some people’s minds, especially those that haven’t seen them. I didn’t realize Rocky actually won an Academy Award until recently.

In both movies Rocky seemed like a real, believable character. Not every word he speaks is significant or even necessarily funny. He says nonsense things about “flying candy” and just goofball stuff that you’d expect from an everyday person.

I did notice some strong themes that were present in both movies, which included the ideals of America being a land of opportunity and being a place where people should be free to pursue happiness. In the original Rocky, Apollo Creed decides to stage a fight with an everyday guy (who ends up being Rocky), in order to show that anyone can make it in America. In Rocky Balboa, there is a particularly moving scene where Rocky applies for a license to fight. The board, in order to “look out for him”, initially reject his application. Rocky points out the Bill of Rights down the road (in Philadelphia) and states that he has the right to pursue happiness, and that it is his choice to make to risk his life; it is not their place to stop him just because they are doing what they think is best for him. There’s also a scene where he tells his son to stop blaming other people for his problems and to take responsibility toward his own life.

Most people say Rocky and Rocky Balboa are the best, unless you want to reminisce about the Cold War, then rent Rocky IV.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Why this conservative is against (some) right-to-work laws

Posted by Chance on March 9, 2008

Conservatives typically support right-to-work laws. On most issues I could be considered a conservative, albeit with some libertarian tendencies, and I’m a strong advocate of the free market. It is precisely this free market belief that motivates my opposition to (some) right to work laws.

Wikipedia defines right to work laws as those

…which prohibit agreements between trade unions and employers making membership or payment of union dues or “fees” a condition of employment, either before or after hiring.

Now, I’m not really a strong fan of unions. However, I also believe in the employer’s freedom to hire who they want. Here is an important distinction: if the government requires people to join a union to work certain jobs, or requires certain industries to hire only union workers, I am strongly opposed to that. If the employer requires union membership as a condition of employment, that should be fully within their rights. That is, as long as that requirement was made clear before hiring. While the common definition of “right-to-work” means the employer cannot choose to hire union-only, I would not be surprised if some variants are meant to repeal state government guidelines. Maybe somebody with more knowledge of these laws could help me out on this.

The common argument for “right-to-work” laws it that people should not be “forced” to join a union in order to get a job. However, if this is a requirement of the employee and NOT the government, no one is really being “forced” into anything. In the same way, just because being a Christian may be a requirement to work at a certain church, that doesn’t mean I’m being “forced” into Christianity.

Another important note is that this swings both ways. A company should have the right to hire union only workers, and they should have the right to not hire union workers. Freedom works both ways.

Posted in Politics | Leave a Comment »

A cool radio station

Posted by Chance on March 6, 2008

For those who listen to radio online, Pandora is a great website. The site asks you for an artist or song that you like, then creates a station based on that. You can add additional artists, and you can give a thumbs up/down for songs they play.

The site is similar to Yahoo’s Launchcast radio, but less complex. If I remember correctly, Yahoo asked you to rate songs/artists from 0 to 5 stars. Pandora’s interface is simpler.

The site does seem to repeat songs quite a bit. I created a station based on U2, and I’m only interested in hearing so many versions of “One.”

Thanks to Neil for informing me of the site.

Posted in Music | 4 Comments »