To Impeach or Not to Impeach, part 2

“[S]ome provision should be made for defending the community against the incapacity, negligence, or perfidy of the chief magistrate. He might pervert his administration into a scheme of peculation [i.e., embezzlement] or oppression. He might betray his trust to foreign powers.”  — James Madison, during the debates of the Constitutional Convention (1787)

In Part 1 of “To Impeach or Not to Impeach”, we looked at the constitutional requirements for impeachment — i.e., the types of offenses, as well as the congressional procedure. We reviewed definitions and listed examples of past offenses that were considered impeachable in English and American history. And, we examined the three instances in which articles of impeachment have been drawn up and lodged against a U.S. president. The next step before assessing whether or not there is, in my layman’s opinion, a legal case for impeaching President Obama is to consider the complaints and arguments made for it in the press (as found on the web) over the past 20+ months.

In early 2013, World News Daily assembled a bipartisan panel of top legal scholars and constitutional experts — Bruce Fein, Herbert Titus, and Louis Fisher — to evaluate 12 popular arguments at the time for impeaching Obama. They were…

Operation Fast and Furious cartoonOperation Fast & Furious: Launched by the DoJ, this was part of a cross-agency effort to identify and eliminate arms trafficking networks. “Between 2009 and 2011, ATF agents allowed more than 2,000 firearms to ‘walk’ across the border. As many as 1,700 of those weapons have since been lost, and more than 100 have been found at bloody crime scenes on both sides of the border, including the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent [Brian Terry] in Arizona.” Insider whistle-blowing led to a House GOP investigation. There has been continued stonewalling and obstruction by A.G. Eric Holder and the Justice Dept., who refuse to relinquish relevant documents requested by the House and by Judicial Watch (via FoIA).

Obama’s U.S. citizen ‘hit list’: Obama ordered the 2010 assassination via drone strike of Anwar al-Awlaki, the infamous terrorist leader and avowed member of al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, and Samir Khan, a propagandist for al-Qaeda. However, Awlaki was a U.S. citizen born in New Mexico and Khan was a naturalized U.S. citizen. Awlaki’s Denver-born son, Abdulrahman (16), was killed in a similar strike two weeks earlier. The two older men certainly had plenty of evidence linking them to terrorist activities. But, as American citizens, they retained the right to due process before the law, which the federal government did not provide. (As far as I can tell, the teenage Awlaki was not involved in any terror-related activities.) Who else will President Obama put on his unconstitutional hit list?

‘Recess’ appointments – when Senate was in session: “The Constitution allows the president to nominate judges and executive branch officials, but the Senate must confirm his nominees. Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution authorizes the president to ‘fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate.’ But while the Senate was in session in January 2012, Obama made recess appointments of Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and three members of the National Labor Relations Board.”

Appointment of ‘czars’ without Senate approval: Article II, Section 2, allows the president to appoint ambassadors, judges, and other officers “with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.” But, Obama appointed more than 30 unelected “czars” to positions in federal agencies without vetting them through Congress.

Suing Arizona for enforcing federal law: Realizing that the Obama administration was not very concerned with its duties to police our borders, in April 2010 Arizona adopted an immigration law (S.B. 1070) designed to discourage illegal aliens from entering the state. It authorized state police officers to verify a person’s immigration status with federal authorities and detain individuals suspected of being in the country illegally. “When the state senate passed the bill, President Obama’s administration immediately sued and enjoined the state from enforcing portions of the state’s legislation.”

Illegal-alien amnesty by executive order: “In June 2012, Obama issued an executive order declaring that illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. before they turned 16 and who are younger than 30 would not be deported. They are eligible for a two-year work permit that can be renewed indefinitely under the program called Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals…. Obama’s executive order mimics some of the provisions in the DREAM Act, which has failed to pass in Congress.” In essence, Obama engineered the “humanitarian crisis” we are now experiencing with the newest flood of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) and all of the added expenses for the American taxpayer. Plus, he is threatening to declare amnesty — again, by executive fiat — for roughly half of the 11-12 million illegal immigrants already here.

Cap & Trade: When in doubt, bypass Congress: “In April 2010, the U.S. Senate rejected the ‘cap-and-trade’ bill, which created a carbon-tax system and amplified federal power over the energy industry. Nonetheless, Obama’s EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, declared carbon dioxide a pollutant. Before Congress had voted on the matter, on Dec. 7, 2009, Jackson signed an ‘endangerment finding’ labeling CO2 and five other gases – methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6 ) – threats to human health. That step provided the EPA with the authority to regulate the gases in the absence of congressional approval, and the federal agency rolled out new rules.”

Obama Lied, Americans Died

Re: Benghazi-gate

Refusal to prosecute New Black Panthers: “After Obama took office, the Department of Justice dismissed voter intimidation charges against two leaders of the New Black Panther Party, or NBPP, related to the 2008 presidential election…. [T]wo NBPP members were filmed standing in front of the entrance to a Philadelphia polling station in black uniforms, with one member wielding a billy club. According to complaints, both men standing in front of the polling station pointed at voters and shouted racial slurs, using such phrases as “white devil” and, “You’re about to be ruled by the black man, Cracker!” Attorney General Eric Holder’s office was accused by Justice Department insiders of racial favoritism in dropping the charges against the NBPP.” A former DoJ attorney testified, “I was told by voting section management that cases are not going to be brought against black defendants on [behalf] of white victims.”

Refusal to defend Defense of Marriage Act: “President Obama announced in 2011 that his administration believed the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, to be unconstitutional and instructed the Justice Department to no longer defend it in court…. After the Obama administration refused to defend the law, House leaders instructed the House general counsel to take up the case. Because the Justice Department won’t be doing it, taxpayers have already paid as much as $1.7 million for the legal work.”

Illegally conducting war against Libya: “Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war. The U.S. launched combat operations in Libya on March 19, 2011. For several weeks before the U.S. combat operation in Libya, CIA operatives had been deployed to the area to gather intelligence for military airstrikes and support Libyan rebels in the overthrow of Gaddafi. The New York Times reported in March 2011 that Obama had “signed a secret finding authorizing the C.I.A. to provide arms and other support to Libyan rebels.” It has been argued that Obama’s use of offensive military force without prior consent from Congress is a violation of Section 8 “and therefore constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor”.

Benghazi-gate: On Sept. 11, 2012, a U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were brutally murdered at a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi. The Obama administration immediately and repeatedly lied to the public about the circumstances, blaming it on a spontaneous riot in response to an anti-Islam video. (These claims were later proven false.) Subsequent investigations have revealed delinquency regarding previous security concerns at the consulate, hesitation by the President and a “stand down” order for CIA operatives in the area to not attempt a rescue, various efforts by the administration to keep relevant (and potentially damning) information from being revealed (via intel communications and/or the survivors), and apathy by the President over the whole matter. In short, American lives lost for no good reason and possibly the biggest cover-up (with a complicit MSM) in the history of American politics.

Gun-control executive actions: Following the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Obama used it as justification for signing 23 gun-control “executive actions.” (Contrary to MSM reporting, these “actions” are merely recommendations without the authority of “executive orders.”) “He also issued three ‘presidential memoranda,’ which carry the weight of executive orders, directing 1) federal law enforcement to trace firearms taken into federal custody during a criminal investigation, 2) the Department of Justice to coordinate federal agencies to share information for background checks and 3) the Department of Health to ‘conduct or sponsor research into the causes of gun violence and the ways to prevent it.’ Obama also called on Congress to pass a package of legislative proposals. He promised to throw his weight behind the package, demanding new laws to institute universal background checks and impose new bans on high-capacity magazines and so-called ‘assault weapons.’”

Based on these experts’ assessments of these twelve charges, WND’s “Impeachable Crimes Advisory System” rated only two of them as “High (constitutional violation)” (i.e., essentially, a 4 on a 5-point scale): 1) Refusal to defend Defense of Marriage Act, and 2) Benghazi-gate. That was a little surprising to me, as I would have thought more would rise to at least that level. Plus, only two of the remaining offenses were rated as “Severe (impeachable high crime)” (i.e., 5/5). They were…

Regarding “Obama’s U.S. citizen ‘hit list’”:

Fein argued that the killings were “tantamount to murder…. If you don’t have a trial, that’s the definition of tyranny.” Fein and Fisher agreed on the highly suspicious nature of the administration’s initially keeping its legal rationale secret. Fein continued: “There’s a huge, strong legal case here, absolutely,” he said. “I worked in the Office of Legal Counsel. I worked on impeachment of Nixon. The idea that I would write a secret memo on something that’s an impeachable offense would be insane.” Titus said, “Basically, Obama is claiming the right to be the prosecutor on the grounds that the whole world is a war zone. I think it’s an impeachable offense because he’s neither using the civilian courts nor is he bringing them before our military courts. What the president has done is simply defined the whole world as a battleground.” He went on to say that the administration’s legal reasoning (as eventually explained in an unofficial “white paper”) is “deeply flawed – based on a perverse view of the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause. Additionally, [it] completely ignores the  procedural protections expressly provided in the Constitution’s Third Article that were specifically designed to prohibit the president from taking the law into his own hands, serving as prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner.”

Drones aim at ConstitutionRegarding “Illegally conducting war against Libya”:

According to Fein, “President Obama just totally flouted the whole thing and basically said through his various memos, ‘I don’t need congressional authority to go to war.’ That was clearly an impeachable offense. It’s clearly gross usurpation of the war power.  Both the Republicans and Democrats have acquiesced in that.” Fisher agreed: “I think it’s completely unconstitutional. It’s extremely offensive for a president to claim he can use military force against another country, like Libya, that didn’t threaten us. I find that appalling.” Titus’ rebuke was equally strong: “I think Libya is the strongest argument for impeachment. That’s the one that stands out. It’s unprecedented. It doesn’t even fit within any of the precedents that have been set since Korea.” He added that, strategically speaking, “If you’re going to talk impeachment, you have to find something that Obama has done that is so distinctly different than what other presidents have done before him that people can resonate with it. The difficulty, of course, is that people have forgotten about Libya.”

Of course, other charges were also being talked about that were not considered by this panel. And, since the WND analysis was conducted, additional scandals have erupted and more offenses added to the long list of potential charges for acts of impeachment. Briefly, here are the ones I have encountered:

  • Obamacare = ‘taxation without representation’, consumer fraud
  • Gitmo (various)
  • Claims that Obama has tried to “change” the Constitution
  • IRS scandal (i.e., targeting of conservative and Christian groups for harrassment)
  • Threatening military readiness
  • Continually limiting the First Amendment; spying on and harassment of journalists and the AP
  • Sequestration tactics over budgetary issues (by intentionally “inflicting pain” on the American people)
  • NSA illegally spying on Americans
  • Perpetual debt
  • Syria (i.e., cherry-picking intel to reveal and lying to American people to incite support for war)
  • Release of illegal alien criminals from prison
  • Rank corruption, cronyism, and impeachable offenses related to Obama’s ‘green’ funding adventures
  • Bergdahl prisoner exchange (i.e., known Army deserter swapped for 5 terrorist leaders; failure to notify Congress beforehand)
  • Foreign policy that weakens America and endangers Americans both domestically and abroad (e.g., emboldening enemies, tacitly supporting a Muslim Brotherhood revolution, spurning allies, rhetorically minimizing the threat of Islamic fundamentalism)
  • Ignoring a statutory deadline and refusing to consider an application related to nuclear waste storage
  • Implementing Common Core national standards through strings-attached waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act
  • Refusing to enforce federal drug laws
  • General contempt for Congress and the American people

That’s a minimum of thirty individual offenses! Some of these charges can be lumped together, though. Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy has a book out in which he lays out the case, as he see it. He focuses on 7 proposed articles of impeachment,

“beginning with “The President’s Willful Refusal to Execute the Laws Faithfully and Usurpation of the Legislative Authority of Congress.” Within that article, McCarthy cites Obama’s illegal and unilateral changing of federal statutes, from several components within Obamacare to scrapping codified welfare work requirements to amending immigration laws and enacting policies Congress did not approve. He also alleges Obama failed to execute laws ranging from layoff notifications to the Clean Air Act to nuclear waste and Medicare.”

Immigration appears in two other articles — one regarding the unilateral conferring of amnesty on certain groups, and one regarding the defrauding of the American people about the Obama administration’s border enforcement record. I think this is a very good way to summarize and categorize the various offenses, citing specific examples for each major area.

Muslim Brotherhood Infiltrates Obama AdministrationNow, what about the charge of Treason, specifically? Remember, the House of Representatives has never, as yet, included charges of treason when drawing up official articles of impeachment. Is there a basis for them being included against President Obama? Some people certainly seem to think so. Here is a sample list, as put forth by economist/columnist Allan Erickson last year:

“Certainly it can be shown he has given aid and comfort to our enemies: unilateral disarmament, bungling the entire war on terror purposefully, sending $500 million recently to Hamas, fomenting rebellion and destabilization in Egypt to the benefit of radical Islam, illegally and covertly arming Jihadists in Syria, promising the Russians more flexibility in the post 2012 election period on matters pertaining to unilateral disarmament, cutting our military to the bone against the recommendation of his own advisors, giving sanctuary to our enemies, refusing to confront the terrorists among us, even inviting members of the Muslim Brotherhood to hold positions of responsibility in government.”

A couple of those, it could be argued, might be chalked up to simple incompetence and mistakes made, as everyone is apt to do — even the President. But, there are plenty of obviously intentional actions that are quite in line with the administration’s progressive agenda and a misguided belief that the President can simply be nice and use reason to get our enemies — if he even recognizes them as such — to be peaceful. (More on this in Part 3.)

That pretty much covers the breadth of the irresponsible, reprehensible, criminal, and/or unconstitutional offenses that President Obama has committed while in the Oval Office, either directly or indirectly. I admit that most of the wording assumes guilt, but there does seem to be quite a bit of evidence supporting the charges. The question is whether or not they are sufficient to justify impeachment. In the third and final part of this series of posts, I will attempt to answer — with input from various others — the three questions I asked in Part 1.


Of Rattlesnakes and Unity

I had originally intended this post to be a continuation of “To Impeach or Not to Impeach”. But, unfortunately, I did not get as much done on it this week as I had hoped. (I blame Facebook.) As I worked on Part 2 — which may expand into a Part 3 — tonight, I realized that I was not going to make my normally scheduled publication time. So, thinking fast, I came up with a bit of historical American trivia to share with you.

"Join, or Die" woodcutHave you ever wondered about the origins of the (in)famous Gadsden flag, with its image of a coiled rattlesnake and “Dont Tread On Me” warning? It was designed by and named for Gen. Christopher Gadsden (1724–1805) during the American Revolution. But, Gadsden was inspired by Benjamin Franklin. Ever since Franklin referred to the rattlesnake in a satirical 1751 commentary published in his Pennsylvania Gazette, the rattlesnake had been showing up in colonial symbolism. In 1754, Franklin published his famous “Join, or Die” woodcut cartoon, with a chopped up rattlesnake representing the colonies.

But, why the rattlesnake? What was Franklin’s fascination with the reptile? It becomes clearer in an essay Franklin wrote in the final days of 1775 in the Pennsylvania Journal. Under the pseudonym “An American Guesser”, Franklin used an allegory about the rattlesnake to encourage the colonies regarding the necessity of coming together in common purpose against a grave external threat (i.e., tyranny by the British).

“I recollected that her eye excelled in brightness, that of any other animal, and that she has no eye-lids. She may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance. She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. As if anxious to prevent all pretensions of quarreling with her, the weapons with which nature has furnished her, she conceals in the roof of her mouth, so that, to those who are unacquainted with her, she appears to be a most defenseless animal; and even when those weapons are shown and extended for her defense, they appear weak and contemptible; but their wounds however small, are decisive and fatal. Conscious of this, she never wounds till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of stepping on her. Was I wrong, Sir, in thinking this a strong picture of the temper and conduct of America?

‘Tis curious and amazing to observe how distinct and independent of each other the rattles of this animal are, and yet how firmly they are united together, so as never to be separated but by breaking them to pieces. One of those rattles singly, is incapable of producing sound, but the ringing of thirteen together, is sufficient to alarm the boldest man living.

Gadsden flagThe Rattle-Snake is solitary, and associates with her kind only when it is necessary for their preservation. In winter, the warmth of a number together will preserve their lives, while singly, they would probably perish. The power of fascination attributed to her, by a generous construction, may be understood to mean, that those who consider the liberty and blessings which America affords, and once come over to her, never afterwards leave her, but spend their lives with her.”

What is the Gadsden flag’s significance today? It has become a symbol for the Libertarian party and is more generally used by the American Tea Party movement. Variations of it and other rattlesnake flags have been used by militia groups, anarcho-capitalists, and by the U.S. Navy. It has also been used — sometimes seriously and sometimes humorously — in everything from clothing lines to animated TV series to heavy metal and country music. Freedom. Strength in community. Vigilance. Ready to strike in defense. Clearly, the symbolism sounds a chord within many Americans. And, now, you know why.


To Impeach or Not to Impeach, part 1

“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”  — U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 4

Should President Barack Obama be impeached?

A lot of people seem to think so. There have been internet memes, tee-shirts, bumper stickers, billboards, and highway overpass demonstrations demanding it. Even some hard-Left liberals, like Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin, have called for Obama’s impeachment. Yet, opinions on the matter differ even among his most ardent ideological opponents — e.g., Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) are against it, while former Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) and former Rep. Allen West (R-FL) are in favor.

As I write this, talk of impeaching the President appears to have died down somewhat — at least, in the press. Between foreign affairs (e.g., the ISIS threat; Hamas vs. Israel; Russia in Ukraine) and domestic crises (e.g., protests and rioting in Ferguson, MO; floods of illegal immigrants; potential Ebola outbreak), the nation and its leaders have had plenty of other concerns to take up our and their time and energy. But, the idea of impeaching President Obama definitely hasn’t gone away, nor should it.

"Impeach Obama" billboardTo be honest, up until lately, I hadn’t been keeping up with the arguments for and against impeachment. It was just one of those issues/ideas that intrigued me but never made it to the top of my list to check into and mull over. But, when I decided to investigate it for this article, I found and read over 50 articles of varying length and depth, from average-guy/gal bloggers (like me) to regular political columnists, politicians, and think-tank fellows, reaching back to November 2012. (Of course, talk of impeachment started way before then. In fact, a petition for it on the White House’s “We the People” petition Web page gathered almost 29,000 digital signatures in only 5 days just that month.) So, hopefully, I have a fair handle on the issue and the arguments anti and pro.

It seemed to me that the best approach would be to answer, if possible, the following three questions, in order:

1) Is there a legal, Constitutional case to be made for impeaching Obama?

2) Assuming there is a case, from a pragmatic sense, would it be a good idea (i.e., in the country’s best interest) to proceed with impeachment, in regards to costs, competing issues & responsibilities of the parties that would be involved, and the consequences of potentially removing Obama from office?

3) Assuming there is a case, but consensus opinion beforehand — i.e., among the expert legal minds, political scientists and strategists — is that Obama nevertheless might not be found guilty and removed from office, would the exercise of initiating impeachment proceedings against the President still be worth it on principle, for morale, and for history’s sake?

What Does the Constitution Have to Say?

Before proceeding, we need to review the Constitutional grounds for presidential impeachment and any relevant past examples. Here are the basics, as per the Constitutional Rights Foundation’s (CRF) website:

“The U.S. Constitution provides impeachment as the method for removing the president, vice president, federal judges, and other federal officials from office. The impeachment process begins in the House of Representatives and follows these steps:

1) The House Judiciary Committee holds hearings and, if necessary, prepares articles of impeachment. These are the charges against the official.
2) If a majority of the committee votes to approve the articles, the whole House debates and votes on them.
3) If a majority of the House votes to impeach the official on any article, then the official must then stand trial in the Senate.
4) For the official to be removed from office, two-thirds of the Senate must vote to convict the official. Upon conviction, the official is automatically removed from office and, if the Senate so decides, may be forbidden from holding governmental office again.

The impeachment process is political in nature, not criminal. Congress has no power to impose criminal penalties on impeached officials. But criminal courts may try and punish officials if they have committed crimes.

The Constitution sets specific grounds for impeachment. They are “treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.” To be impeached and removed from office, the House and Senate must find that the official committed one of these acts.

The Constitution defines treason in Article 3, Section 3, Clause 1:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Constitution does not define bribery. It is a crime that has long existed in English and American common law. It takes place when a person gives an official money or gifts to influence the official’s behavior in office. For example, if defendant Smith pays federal Judge Jones $10,000 to find Smith not guilty, the crime of bribery has occurred.

Prior to the Clinton investigation, the House had begun impeachment proceedings against only 17 officials. [None were ever convicted.] …

In all the articles of impeachment that the House has drawn, no official has been charged with treason…. Two officials have been charged with bribery. The remaining charges against all the other officials fall under the category of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” “

Most people understand what treason and bribery are; it’s this “high crimes and misdemeanors” that gives most of us pause. The Framers were concerned about sufficiently covering all the types of abuse that a president might commit but didn’t want to threaten the separation of powers by giving the Legislative branch too much power (e.g., via vague wording) over the Executive. After rejecting “corruption” and “maladministration”, they settled on “high crimes and misdemeanors”. It was a term well familiar to them as a part of English law since 1386. According to the CRF, it covered a wide range of offenses, including (but not limited to):

“misappropriating government funds, appointing unfit subordinates, not prosecuting cases, not spending money allocated by Parliament, promoting themselves ahead of more deserving candidates, threatening a grand jury, disobeying an order from Parliament, arresting a man to keep him from running for Parliament, losing a ship by neglecting to moor it, helping “suppress petitions to the King to call a Parliament,” granting warrants without cause, and bribery.”

Some were criminal acts and others not, but they all involved an official abusing his power of office and, therefore, his fitness to continue said service put into question.

Alexander Hamilton portrait

Alexander Hamilton

“In Federalist No. 65, [Alexander] Hamilton explained impeachment. He defined impeachable offenses as “those offences which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or in other words from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

For the more than 200 years since the Constitution was adopted, Congress has seriously considered impeachment only 18 times. Thirteen of these cases involved federal judges. The “high crimes and misdemeanors” that the House charged against these judges included being habitually drunk, showing favoritism on the bench, using judicial power unlawfully, using the office for financial gain, unlawfully punishing people for contempt of court, submitting false expense accounts, getting special deals from parties appearing before the court, bullying people in open court, filing false income tax returns, making false statements while under oath, and disclosing confidential information.

Only three of the 18 impeachment cases have involved a president — Andrew Johnson in 1868, Richard Nixon in 1974, and Bill Clinton in 1998.”

Prime Examples

So, what were the circumstances, charges, and outcome(s) of each case involving a U.S. president?

Johnson, a Democrat, constantly clashed with the Radical Republicans over Reconstruction legislation. In particular, the Tenure of Office Act was one of several passed despite Johnson’s veto. It required the President to get congressional permission before firing anyone in the executive branch whom Congress had approved. Johnson, believing the Act was unconstitutional, proceeded to fire Edwin Stanton (Rad. Rep.), the Secretary of War.

“The House passed 11 articles of impeachment. Eight involved Johnson’s violations of the Tenure of Office Act. One charged him with sending orders through improper channels. Another accused him of conspiring against Congress, citing a statement he made about Congress not representing all the states. The last summarized the other 10 charges and charged him with failing to enforce the Reconstruction Acts. At the end of the Senate trial, only three charges were brought to a vote. Johnson was saved from conviction on each by one vote.”

The charges against Johnson, generally seen as politically motivated, are not viewed as “high crimes and misdemeanors” worthy of removing a president from office.

Nixon, as we all know, was involved in the “Watergate Scandal”. Prior to the 1972 election (in which Nixon would be re-elected by a landslide), an attempted burglary/wire-tapping occurred at the Democratic HQ at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. The operatives were caught in the act, and it turned out they had ties to the White House. It was never proven how much the President knew beforehand, but it is suspected that he was afraid of what other unethical practices by his administration might be discovered. Nixon is known to have talked of raising hush money for the Watergate burglars and used the FBI and CIA to impede the investigation.

“In 1974, the House Judiciary committee voted three articles of impeachment. One accused Nixon of obstruction of justice. Another accused him of abuse of power. The third charged him with contempt of Congress for defying the committee’s requests to produce documents. Nixon resigned the presidency before the whole House voted on the articles.”

It had been proposed earlier that the President also be brought up on tax evasion. (VP Spiro Agnew had already been forced to resign in 1973, pleading “no contest” to charges of income tax evasion.) But, based on a previously-ordered staff report, the committee concluded it was not an impeachable offense and declined to vote an article of impeachment for that charge.

Bill Clinton "Liar, Liar" headline - Daily NewsClinton’s impeachment woes are known — at least, in part — to most people over 35. What started out as an investigation into a 20-year-old land investment deal expanded to include “scandals surrounding the firing of White House staff in its travel office, the misuse of FBI files, and an illicit affair that the president had with a White House intern.” That last one was the biggest embarrassment. In his 1998 report, Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr identified 11 potentially impeachable offenses, all related to the affair.

“Based on the independent counsel’s investigation, the House Judiciary Committee voted four articles of impeachment. The first article accused the president of committing perjury before a grand jury convened by the independent counsel. The second charged him with providing “perjurious, false and misleading testimony” in a civil case related to the scandal. The third accused him of obstructing justice to “delay, impede, cover up and conceal the existence” of evidence related to the scandal. The fourth charged that he misused and abused his office by deceiving the American public, misleading his cabinet and other employees so that they would mislead the public, asserting executive privilege to hinder the investigation, and refusing to respond to the committee and misleading the committee about the scandal.”

During the committee’s hearing, experts called by the Democrats testified that none of the charges constituted “high crimes and misdemeanors”. Experts called by the Republicans countered that there was precedent of impeachment and removal from office for perjury. They also argued that Clinton had violated his oath and duties as “chief law enforcement officer” to uphold all the nation’s laws.

Now that we have a foundational understanding of impeachment, in Part 2 we’ll look at the current circumstances and attempt to answer the three questions I posed above.


5 Noteworthy Quotes from the Week Ending 8/30/2014

The title says it all. These aren’t necessarily the “Top 5″ topics, based on any particular rating scale. But, they are (I thought) notable commentary on some important issues, foreign and domestic. I’ve added a few comments of my own, as usual.

David Cameron raises threat level re ISIS1) UK Prime Minister David Cameron re Islamic State: “We are in the middle of a generational struggle between a poisonous and extremist ideology that I believe that we’ll be fighting for years, and probably decades. We cannot appease this ideology. We have to confront it at home and abroad. To do this we need a tough, intelligent, patient, comprehensive approach to defeat the terrorist threat at its source.”

Whether or not you agree with everything Cameron said or even all of the steps he listed in his solution, you have to admit that he has a much better grasp of who & what the enemy is and the all-inclusive sort of strategy that needs to be taken to defeat them. It’s a whole lot more reassuring than Obama’s “We don’t have a strategy, yet.” And, despite what the President seems to think, containment of the Islamic State within Syria and Iraq is simply not a sufficient, or even realistic, plan.

2) Dr. Ben Carson re the Ferguson situation: “Perhaps it would be useful to examine the tragedy with the facts on the table rather than through the lenses of hypersensitized emotions stimulated by those attempting to exploit the situation.”

I totally agree. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult for people (on all sides) to divorce themselves from those emotionally-driven (and sometimes misinformed) judgements we’ve already made in order to make a reasonably objective, just-the-facts assessment. And it certainly doesn’t help when all sorts of other issues — both big-picture and peripheral — are confusing the investigation in people’s minds.

3) Scarlett Johansson re the Hobby Lobby ruling: “When I heard that some politicians were cheering the Supreme Court’s decision to give bosses the right to interfere in our access to birth control, I thought I had woken up in another decade. Like many of my friends, I was appalled by the thought of men taking away women’s ability to make our own personal health care decisions.”

Johansson, working with Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s new advertising campaign, designed a tee-shirt that says, “Hey Politicians! The 1950s called… They want their sexism back!” It proves that the feminist actress, who is enjoyable as the “Black Widow” and in other roles, is just another confused Hollywood liberal when it comes to the facts on this case and this issue. Once more,… no one is interfering with women’s access to birth control or ability to make their own personal healthcare decisions. (Ironically, it’s Obamacare that reduces choices and usurps people’s autonomy.) SCOTUS merely agreed that pro-life companies like Hobby Lobby should not be forced to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing methods of birth control. Sixteen types of preventive contraception are still covered. Anything that isn’t can always be paid for out of one’s own purse/wallet.

4) “Russian forces have entered Ukraine.”  — President Petro Poroshenko

RUSSIA-UKRAINE-NATO-CRISIS-POLITICSBritain’s Ambassador to the U.N., Mark Lyall Grant, concurs: “Now we see irrefutable evidence of regular Russian forces operating inside Ukraine.” NATO intel reports at least 1000 Russian troops amassing in Ukraine and has provided satellite imagery (from last week) of Russian self-propelled artillery units (i.e., tanks). NATO’s Brig. Gen. Nico Tak said that the highly sophisticated nature of the weaponry make it “extremely unlikely that this sort of equipment is used by volunteers.” The implication there is that Russian soldiers trained on the weapons must be present to assist the separatists. The Bear is on the move. Now, if only President Obama would publicly recognize this as the beginning of an invasion and not merely breeches of “territorial integrity”.

5) Commenter “frogmouth” at Twitchy re Michael Sam getting cut from the Rams: “Without the media hoopla over his “groundbreaking” status as the first openly gay player to be signed etc etc, no one outside of the Rams organization and a few Fantasy Football fan boys would have taken any notice of a mediocre 7th round pick being signed and then subsequently cut before the season begins.”

Exactly. But, now the accusations are beginning to fly that Sam’s release is due to the Rams suddenly becoming anti-gay bigots. Remember when retired Coach Tony Dungy indicated that Sam’s less-than-stellar talent was not, in his estimation, worth the headaches and “distractions” that Sam’s manufactured celebrity would likely continue to produce? (Others called it bigotry. I call it practical wisdom in running a sports team.) I’m betting the Rams organization is starting to get the message.


Journey of Light + Creeping Superfluid

Dr. Jeff Zweerink

Dr. Jeff Zweerink

I decided to throw a couple more science-bytes at you from astrophysicist Dr. Jeffrey Zweerink. They’re brief but fun bits of science trivia to pack into your “li’l pea brain” (as my friend likes to say). And, if you realize that, technically, that is not physically possible, then we’re on the same wavelength.

1) “We all know that light takes roughly 8 minutes to reach from the Sun to the Earth. But, did you know that the light actually takes anywhere from 10,000 to 170,000 years to get from the center of the Sun, where it was produced, to the edge of the Sun, where then it can actually extend off to the Earth? That’s because, as it’s going through the Sun, it’s bouncing around kind of like a pinball, and it takes (again) anywhere from 10,000 to 170,000 years to make that journey.”

Here’s a cool little video on the subject:

2) “Did you know that there are liquids that will drain up and over the edges of a container and drip out even with nothing pushing on them? In fact, superfluid liquid helium is one of those fluids. As you cool liquid helium, it could be in a container that is well-containing it, and as it makes the transition to a superfluid, it will leak out through holes that it didn’t ‘see’ before, because now it has zero viscosity. That same zero viscosity will allow it to creep up over the edges of the container and drain itself and empty it in a way that no other liquid would behave.”

Here’s a short clip on this one:

Pretty cool! I feel all science-y, now….


A Bad Argument for Banana Design

Okay, here’s another “Real Science” moment from the staff at Reasons to Believe (RTB). This time, Dr. Jeff Zweerink explains why saying “The banana was perfectly designed for human hands.” is a bad argument. (Personally, I don’t think I have ever heard that argument for ID.) This one isn’t quite as weird as the one about bellybutton lint, but hopefully you find it interesting.

banana - partially peeled“You may have heard the argument that bananas are designed to fit in the human hand — that, when you look at the number of ridges and the width of the ridges on the banana and where the joints are on the hand, that the banana is designed to fit well, that it folds and peels, that it curves toward the mouth,… that this is an argument that God has designed the banana to fit in the human hand.

This is a bad argument, because it fails to take into account that we have genetically modified the banana — through crop-growing techniques — to look like it is today. When you look at the original banana, it has none of those characteristics that would allow you to argue that it was well-designed [for the human hand].”

When you consider how many excellent arguments there are for Intelligent Design (whether or not attributed to the God of the Bible), why would you want to use something as lame as this banana-designed-for-the-human-hand, anyway? Here are brief articles of some of those arguments:

“Overlapping Genes Evince Intelligent Design”

“The Nobel Prize, Ribosomes, and Evidence for Intelligent Design”

“He Who Cannot Control His Water (and Sodium) Will Not Survive: The Kidney”
(This one is rather lengthy, and I admit I only skimmed it.)

Besides, bananas were clearly designed for minions:


General Flynn’s Sobering Exit Interview

“[W]ith all these crises we’ve been discussing, the nation is confronting a dangerous era, facing multiple threats and challenges from Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Islamic terrorist groups, you name it. If I wasn’t in there shaking things up, I probably wouldn’t have been doing my job.”  — Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn

Lt Gen Michael Flynn

Lt Gen Michael Flynn

After 33 years of service in the U.S. Army, Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn is retiring a year earlier than planned as chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency. While Flynn downplays the possibility (though neither does he categorically deny it), rumor has it that Flynn was pressured into early retirement by the Obama administration, in particular Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, Jr. Flynn was known for being “disruptive”, as much for his management style as for his refusal to go along with the administration’s official positions regarding, for example, whether or not the U.S. is safer now than before 9/11, or the current state of al Qaeda, or the best way to structure and deploy intelligence assets.

“Flynn had challenged the Obama administration narrative that al-Qaeda’s brand of nihilistic extremism had died with Osama bin Laden in 2011. He had bruised egos at the DIA trying to transform the 17,000-person bureaucracy into a more agile and forward-deployed intel operation, one shaped by the lessons he had learned as intelligence chief for Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq and Afghanistan, working for the ill-fated iconoclast Gen. Stanley McChrystal. As early as 2010, Flynn made waves with a report, Fixing Intel, that said US intelligence could not answer ‘fundamental questions’ in Afghanistan.”

Apparently, his superiors finally decided they had had enough head-butting with their contrarian DIA director and told him it was time to go. [Note: To be clear, I have not read anything implying any unprofessional or insubordinate actions or attitude by Flynn. Quite the contrary.] Whether or not one agrees with Flynn’s vision for improved intelligence-gathering at the DIA or the frankness of his disagreement with the administration, he has a wealth of knowledge, experience, and a great understanding of the Middle East situation that needs to be heard and seriously considered by Congress and others.

The above quote is from the intro to an “exit interview” Flynn did recently with James Kitfield at Breaking Defense. Following (and at the top of this post) are a few quotes from Flynn himself that stood out to me….

“[W]hat I see each day is the most uncertain, chaotic, and confused international environment that I’ve witnessed in my entire career.”

“[W]hen we pull combat troops out of Afghanistan at the end of this year, it’s not going to feel like that war is over. To me, it feels like we’ll be facing a familiar threat and heightened uncertainty for a long time yet.”

“What I see is a strategic landscape and boundaries on the global map changing right before our eyes. That change is being accelerated by the explosion of social media. And we in the intelligence community are trying to understand it all.”

“[A]nother threat I’ve warned about is Islamic terrorists in Syria acquiring chemical or biological weapons. We know they are trying to get their hands on chemical weapons and use what they already have to create a chemical weapons capability.”

“These proliferating Islamic terrorist groups have also for years been developing connective tissue to each other and back to al-Qaeda senior leadership in Pakistan’s tribal regions. Some of those connections are pretty strong. We’re not talking bits and pieces or nascent connections….

So when asked if the terrorists were on the run, we couldn’t respond with any answer but ‘no.’ When asked if the terrorists were defeated, we had to say ‘no.’ Anyone who answers ‘yes’ to either of those questions either doesn’t know what they are talking about, they are misinformed, or they are flat out lying.”

Granted, I’m no expert. But, it sounds to me like the general has — and has had — a better handle on what’s going on and what needs to be done intel-wise than his soon-to-be former bosses at the Pentagon and the White House. Contrary to the President’s claim three years ago, the “tide of war” is certainly not “receding”. If al Qaeda is any less of a threat now, it is because of the rise of the even more barbaric “Islamic State”, who in a few short months have effectively taken control of an area roughly the size of Great Britain and who fully intend to aggressively fulfill their “vision of global domination through a violent Islamic caliphate.”

As Newt Gingrich concluded in his own review of Flynn’s interview: “America needs a new strategy for global affairs. But as long as our leaders refuse to understand the emerging world as it is, not as how they want it to be, we will be stuck with a floundering foreign policy of wishful thinking. Congress can help meet this challenge by inviting General Flynn to expand on his candid thoughts in Congressional testimony about the threats we are facing and how we can keep America safe.”

I’m with Newt. I sincerely hope our congressional leaders take Lt. Gen. Flynn’s assessments seriously and act wisely upon them.


The Scientific Method, part 2: Is It Biblical?

“The Universe has been wrought for us by a supremely good and orderly Creator.” — Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543)

In my last post (part 1), I briefly explained in principle and procedure what comprises the “scientific method”. Today, I want to get a bit into the intersection of “science” and “faith”, as you may have guessed from the question posed in the subtitle of this post. From this, you may think I’m questioning whether or not Christians should even use the scientific method. (That is, is it consistent with scriptural doctrine and principle? I mean, isn’t “science” supposed to be the enemy of “faith”?) I’m not. Rather, I am assuming the answer to that is “Yes” and am going a step further to ask if the scientific method can, in some sense, be found in the Bible. My original title for this post was going to be “Biblical Origins of the Scientific Method”, so that should give you some idea of how I would answer the question….

antique, brass Griffith Club microscope

Antique, brass “Improved Griffith Club Microscope”, patented by E.H. Griffith in Dec. 1886

The suggestion that the “scientific method” can be found in the Bible may sound odd to some of you, as it originally did to me. But, upon closer consideration, it really isn’t. I take my cue from astrophysicist & pastor Dr. Hugh Ross, whom I greatly respect and have quoted many times in the past. Ross is known for saying that the scientific method is really, or could/should be called, the “biblical method”. However, I am reluctant to make such a bold claim. By stating it that way, I think some people assume that Ross is claiming that the multiple steps of the scientific method itself (see previous post) are — to some degree, at least — explicitly found somewhere within the Bible and/or identified as such. When I first heard him say this, I thought it smacked of the tendency among certain Christians — though, not usually Dr. Ross — to overstate the strength of a particular argument when making a case. Still, I understand what he’s getting at. I would simply be more comfortably stating the idea differently, perhaps something like this:

“The underlying principles of the modern scientific method — e.g., searching and testing for truth, the necessity of careful observation, sticking with established facts, maintaining integrity — can be found, sometimes implicitly and sometimes explicitly, within Judeo-Christian scripture. Indeed, it might even be said that the Bible ‘inspired’ modern scientific method, given the preponderance of theists (particularly Christians) among those early founders of modern science.”

This seems to be what Dr. Ross is getting at, anyway. Perhaps it would be best, though, to let Dr. Ross explain his thoughts on the matter himself. The following can be found almost verbatim as an appendix in two of Ross’ books, Creation as Science and More Than a Theory:

“A major source of optimism for resolution of the creation/evolution debates, or at least for significant progress toward resolution, is that all the participants in the debates appear to agree on the best method for testing models. That method is popularly termed the scientific method, though a more accurate label would be the biblical method.

The Bible alone among the ‘scriptures’ or ‘holy books’ of the world’s religions strongly exhorts readers to objectively test before they believe. According to the apostle Paul, no teaching is to escape testing:

Test everything. Hold on to the good. (I Thess. 5:21)

Paul exhorts us that such testing, to be effective, will require objectivity, education, and training:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is. (Rom. 12:2)

Testing before believing pervades both the Old and New Testaments and forms the heart of the biblical concept of faith. The Hebrew word for faith, ‘emuna, means a strongly held conviction that something or someone is certainly real, firmly established, constant, and dependable. The Greek word for faith, pistis, means a strong and welcome conviction of the truth of anything or anyone to the degree that one places deserved trust and confidence in that thing or person. In every instance, faith in the Bible connotes the response to established truth. Just as there is no faith, from a biblical perspective, without an active response, neither is there faith apart from established truth(s).

Jeremiah 10:12 - colorful nebula bkgrdChristian scholars throughout church history, from the early church fathers, to Renaissance naturalists, to Reformation theologians, to present-day evangelical scientists, philosophers, and theologians, have noted a pattern in biblical narratives and descriptions of sequential physical events: the Bible authors typically preface such depictions with a statement of the frame of reference (point of view) and initial conditions and then close with a statement of the final conditions and conclusions about what transpired. The Scottish theologian Thomas Torrance has both written and edited book-length discussions of how Christian theology, and Reformed theology in particular, played a critical role in the development of the scientific method and the amazing advances achieved by Western science.”

In the post “Can You Accept Revealed Wisdom and Still Be ‘Scientific’?”, I answered the title question in the affirmative, investigating the subjectability of the Bible to scientific and historical testing and whether or not religious ideas (and those who hold them) have a place in science. As part of my argument, I listed many well-known scientists of the past and present who were/are theists. Among these august notables of science were Roger and Francis Bacon, whom I discussed in last week’s Part 1. So, obviously, there have been a whole lot of “people of faith” (i.e., the properly understood biblical concept of “faith”, as described above) who have had no problem applying the scientific method in their investigations of God’s Creation. As Dr. Ross (and others) point(s) out, it works pretty well for biblical investigation and interpretation, too. If only we would apply it more often….


The Scientific Method, part 1: What Is It?

After last week’s post of the Dr. Hugh Ross video, I got to thinking about “the scientific method”. Ross is certainly a big fan of it, as is anyone — scientist or layman — who is at all familiar with the scientific enterprise. Indeed, anyone in search for truth in any arena should be a fan of the underlying principles.

So, what *is* the “scientific method”, anyway?

image and quote of Roger BaconAs with the definition for “science” (and a number of other things), if you ask a dozen scientists or philosophers of science to define or explain the scientific method, you’ll probably get a dozen (or more) variations on an answer. But, before I try, I think a brief bit of history is in order.

In a previous post, I mentioned two early, groundbreaking scientists, Roger Bacon (13th cent.) and Francis Bacon (16th-17th cent.), both of whom were noted for their advocacy of the “scientific method”. In fact, Roger Bacon, who was himself heavily influenced by Robert Grosseteste, is called by many the “father of modern scientific method”. The investigative approach we now call the “scientific method” — though it has since been refined — was so closely identified with his descendant, Sir Francis Bacon, that it was known as the “Baconian method”.

At the time, not all research by “natural philosophers” (i.e., scientists) was consistent or methodical and relied too much on the application of deductive reasoning via Aristotelian syllogisms. Bacon and others, though, encouraged a more structured and systematic approach that emphasized experimentation and the application of inductive reasoning to get at the truth. Sometimes called the “Father of Empiricism” or “Father of Experimental Science”, Bacon outlined his ideas for a new system of logic in his Novum Organum (1620). His contemporary, René Descartes, then established a framework of guiding principles for the scientific method in his treatise, Discourse on Method (1637). There have been those (e.g., Charles Peirce (19th-20th cent.)) who disagreed on one or many points of this approach, but for the most part this new, “modern scientific method” has dominated scientific inquiry ever since.

For a decent summary of what it entails, I grabbed the following from Wikipedia:

“The Oxford English Dictionary defines the scientific method as “a method or procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.” The chief characteristic which distinguishes the scientific method from other methods of acquiring knowledge is that scientists seek to let reality speak for itself, supporting a theory when a theory’s predictions are confirmed and challenging a theory when its predictions prove false.”

But, exactly how many steps there are (or should be) to the method and the proper description of each will vary according to who you talk to and what is being investigated. The briefest explanation I have heard/read boils down to this:

1. Observation
2. Hypothesis (inc. Prediction)
3. Experimentation
4. Conclusion (inc. Revision?)

On the other hand, some would insist on 12 or more steps. (Honestly, I can’t remember where I heard or read that, and I didn’t see an actual list, but I’m pretty sure it was at least twelve steps.) I have also seen versions with any number of steps in between. This is often because what one scheme may characterize as a single step actually has several sub-steps, which a different scheme may opt to break out into one or more separate steps. (For example, the analysis and interpretation of data and the publication of results may be lumped into one step, broken out into two or three separate steps, or assumed to be parts of “Experimentation” and/or “Conclusion”.) But, particularly when applied to a given physical event or sequence of events, most would agree that some variation of the following nine steps is essential:

1. Identify the phenomenon to be investigated and explained and/or collect relevant texts and observations.
2. Identify the frame(s) of reference or point(s) of view to be used in studying and describing the phenomenon.
3. Determine the context and initial conditions for the phenomenon.
4. Perform an experiment or observe the phenomenon, noting what takes place when, where, and in what order.
5. Note the final conditions for the phenomenon.
6. Form a tentative explanation, or hypothesis, for how and why things transpired as they did.
7. Test the hypothesis with further experiments or observations, eliminating extraneous data and adding any previously overlooked important information.
8. Revise the hypothesis accordingly.
9. Determine how well the hypothetical explanation of the phenomenon integrates with explanations of related phenomena (i.e., consistency with all available information).

Of course, the steps should not be performed only once. Rather, it is designed to be a continuous and cyclical process. How far back towards the beginning one returns in each cycle will depend on the results of the latest testing, their interpretation, and the extent of the revision(s). If one finds that major revisions are repeatedly called for, it may be time to accept it as a failed hypothesis. And that is fine, as it is all part of the scientific enterprise. Propose your hypothesis (but, hopefully, don’t get too attached to it), test it, and follow the evidence.

X-ray laser experiment

X-ray laser experiment

On the other hand, if a hypothesis is on the right track, continued testing and good interpretations should lead to increasingly smaller revisions. As it explains and predicts more and more, it may be re-classified as a “theory”. (There is no hard-and-fast rule for when this happens, and a hypothesis’ proponents will likely be more disposed toward its promotion than will its opponents.) With continued success, often involving newly developed tests and progressively precise/sensitive technology, a scientific “theory” may eventually become sufficiently detailed and comprehensive to earn the designation of “model” — though, sometimes, “theory” and “model” are used interchangeably. (Again, as far as I can tell, there are no definitive guidelines for how or when this occurs.) And the observations, experimentation, and revisions continue….

The benefits of following such a methodology are many. It recognizes that our knowledge, understanding, and objectivity will always be finite. It minimizes (though it cannot eliminate) the potential effects of things like human error, confusion, operational and ideological bias. It fosters the view that hypotheses should be held tentatively and that testing and re-evaluation be ongoing. And, when followed honestly, it helps to ensure (though it cannot guarantee) that the best ideas, the ones that are held onto, are the ones with the greatest explanatory power & scope and predictive success.

As Dr. Hugh Ross has stated:

“Consistent application of this step-by-step method encourages the necessary meticulousness, restraint, and humility a truth-quest warrants. Use of this process rests on and even builds on confidence that the natural realm is a well-ordered, consistent, contradiction-free system. This method and this underlying conviction, more than anything else, launched and propelled the scientific revolution of the past four centuries.”

Dr. Ross and I would both disagree with the philosophical theory of empiricism, which holds that true knowledge can only be discovered & known via sensory experience and experimentation. But, the “scientific method” has proven itself an excellent, practical tool for investigating the world(s) around us!


Hugh Ross: In the Beginning

RTB emblem
This post is a little different — a break for me (since I wasn’t sure I’d have something else ready in time) and, hopefully, a treat for you. It is a video from a conference held not long ago at Woodcrest Worldwide Church called “In the Beginning” — not to be confused with another conference by that title — that featured Dr. Hugh Ross and others from the Reasons to Believe (RTB) apologetics ministry/organization.

This particular clip is different than the usual seminar or debate-style vidoes. Instead, Dr. Ross is essentially interviewed by a pastor (who reminds me a bit of Glenn Beck). They begin by talking a little about Ross’s early interest in science (e.g., reading books on physics and astronomy at age 7) and what struck him about the Genesis account, when he first read through the Bible at age 17. Then, they step through Genesis chapter 1 (with reference to passages in other books, like Job and Psalms), discussing the Creation Days and the scientific discoveries that support/confirm what is stated and described in the biblical text.

It’s a fun exchange, and Dr. Ross gets to lay out much of the RTB Creation Model, explaining several points of fine-tuning and -timing in the preparation for life on Earth. (He even mentions how YouTube is becoming a “research database”!) Whether you are a Christian or not, creationist or not, I think you will find it fascinating.


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