Why Black Students Aren’t Prepared, part 2

“I have no desire to get rid of safety nets for people who need them. I have a strong desire to get rid of programs that create dependency in able-bodied people.”  — Dr. Ben Carson

Continuing excerpts from Jason L. Riley’s enlightening and insightful book, Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed

saggy-pants-_t23b“Education is not the only area where an oppositional black mindset has been detrimental to social and economic progress. Black cultural attitudes toward work, authority, dress, sex, and violence have also proven counterproductive, inhibiting the development of the kind of human capital that has lead to socioeconomic advancement for other groups. But it’s hard to see how blacks will improve their lot without changing their attitudes toward school. A culture that takes pride in ignorance and mocks learnedness has a dim future. And those who attempt to make excuses for black social pathology rather than condemning these behaviors in no uncertain terms are part of the problem. ‘The middle-class values by which we [middle-class blacks] were raised — the work ethic, the importance of education, the value of property ownership, of respectability, of “getting ahead”, of stable family life, of initiative, of self-reliance, et cetera — are, in themselves, raceless and even assimilationist,’ wrote race scholar Shelby Steele. ‘But the particular pattern of racial identification that emerged in the sixties and that still prevails today urges middle-class blacks (and all blacks) in the opposite direction. This pattern asks us to see ourselves as an embattled minority.’

Black culture today not only condones delinquency and thuggery but celebrates it to the point where black youths have adopted jail fashion in the form of baggy, low-slung pants and oversize T-shirts. Hip-hop music immortalizes drug dealers and murderers. On a 2013 album Jay-Z, one of the country’s richest and most popular rappers, referenced one Wayne Perry in a song. Perry was a hit man in the 1980s for one of Washington, D.C.’s most notorious drug lords. He pleaded guilty in 1994 to five murders, and received five consecutive life sentences. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 2010, President Barack Obama expressed his affinity for rappers like Jay-Z and Lil Wayne, whose lyrics often elevate misogyny, drug dealing, and gun violence. At the time of the president’s interview, Lil Wayne was imprisoned on gun and drug charges.”

A couple years ago, I was taken to task for writing, “I hope that the Black Community will recognize and takes steps to counter the harmful contributions made by certain aspects of “urban culture”, as represented by the hip-hop/rap music glorifying all manner of violent, criminal, and immoral behavior.” But, I wasn’t saying anything different than Riley and Steele.

“Rappers have long expressed pride in spreading degeneracy among black youths…. Meanwhile, liberal sages are preoccupied with ‘contextualizing’ this cultural rot. Cornel West describes rap as ‘primarily the musical expression of the paradoxical cry of desperation and celebration of the black underclass and poor working class, a cry that openly acknowledges and confronts the wave of personal coldheartedness, criminal cruelty and existential hopelessness in the black ghettos.’…

Black intellectuals, it seems, are much more interested in attacking those who are critical of these black cultural expressions. When black officials in Louisiana and Georgia moved to pass indecency laws aimed at the proliferation of youths who refused to cover their backsides in public, [sociologist and TV commentator Michael Eric] Dyson criticized not the kids or the culture but the proposals…. And Benjamin Chavis, the former head of the NAACP, vowed to challenge the ordinances in court….”

You may remember from the previous post that I linked much of this to liberal/progressive policies. It’s sometimes easy to lose the connection, so here’s a bit more on that from Riley….

2014-Black-Poverty-Chart“There is a much stronger case to be made that efforts to help blacks have had more pernicious and lasting effects on black attitudes and habits than either slavery or segregation. Social welfare programs that were initiated or greatly expanded during the 1960s resulted in the government effectively displacing black fathers as breadwinners, and made work less attractive. Even before Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty began in earnest, New York and other states had already been expanding their social welfare programs. And despite the best intentions, the results were not encouraging. [Riley then goes on to discuss increases in broken families and plummeting student performances primarily within the Black Community.]

Ideally, welfare dependency should be a passing phase, and for most people it is. But for too many black families it has become the norm, and even those who escape it often return…. By retarding or otherwise interfering with black self-development, government programs have tended to do more harm than good. And black elites who choose to focus on the behavior of whites are encouraging these youngsters to do the same, and thus perpetuating the problem.

A sad irony of the black cultural obsession with avoiding white behavior is that the habits and attitudes associated with ghetto life today can be traced not to Mother Africa but to Europeans who immigrated to the American South…. These immigrants brought their Old World habits and patterns to America and passed them along to the people who lived around them, which included most black people in America…. In the opening essay of his 2005 book, Black Rednecks and White Liberals, Thomas Sowell neatly summarized some of these findings:

The cultural values and social patterns prevalent among Southern whites included an aversion to work, proneness to violence, neglect of education, sexual promiscuity, improvidence, drunkenness, lack of entrepreneurship, reckless searches for excitement, lively music and dance, and a style of religious oratory marked by strident rhetoric, unbridled emotions, and flamboyant imagery. This oratorical style carried over into the political oratory of the region in both the Jim Crow era and the civil rights era, and has continued on into our own times among black politicians, preachers, and activists.

Most whites have of course abandoned this behavior, and have risen socioeconomically as a result. How ironic that so many blacks cling to these practices in an effort to avoid ‘acting white’. And how tragic that so many liberals choose to put an intellectual gloss on black cultural traits that deserve disdain. The civil rights movement, properly understood, was about equal opportunity. But a group must be culturally equipped to seize it. Blacks today on balance remain ill equipped, and the problem isn’t white people.”

Ironic and tragic, indeed.


Why Black Students Aren’t Prepared

“We know that there are many things wrong in the white world, but there are many things wrong in the black world, too. We can’t keep on blaming the white man. There are things we must do for ourselves.”  — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A few weeks ago, I cited from Jason Riley’s book, Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed, in which he explained why African-Americans typically support anything President Obama and his administration do, regardless of the damage it does — even when Blacks are more negatively impacted than anyone else. But, it isn’t the Obama administration that is the only problem. Liberal/progressive policies in general, and particularly those which are supposed to *help* minorities, no matter how well-intentioned, make it harder for Blacks to succeed in America.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t all fall on government’s shoulders. Certain elements of “black culture” are to blame, as well, though those are often enabled and encouraged by “progressive” attitudes. Take the matter of education, for instance. Citing anthropological studies of black students, Riley noted,

“The behaviors and attitudes to be avoided included, for example, enrolling in honors and advanced-placement classes, striving for high grades, talking properly, hanging around too many white students, and participating in extracurricular activities that were populated by whites.”

This is only exacerbated by academically disengaged parents and by a school system that sets lower standards for black kids and often passes students who don’t perform at grade level.

Nancy Pelosi marching with Congressional Black Caucus

Nancy Pelosi marching with Congressional Black Caucus

“Today’s civil rights leaders encourage blacks to see themselves as victims. The overriding message from the NAACP, the National Urban League, and most black politicians is that white racism explains black pathology. Ogbu’s research shows that this message is not lost on black youth. ‘Black students chose well-educated and successful professional Blacks in Shaker Heights and elsewhere in the nation as role models,’ he noted. ‘However, the role models were admired because of their leadership in the “collective struggle” against White oppression or in the civil rights movement rather than because of their academic and professional success or other attributes that made them successful in the corporate economy or wider societal institutions.’

There was a time when black leaders understood the primacy of black self-development. They fought hard for equal opportunity, but knew that blacks have to be culturally prepared to take advantage of those opportunities when they arrive. [See quote at top of post.] Today we have people trying to help blacks by making excuses for them…. Multiculturalists like Geneva Gay, a professor of education at the University of Washington – Seattle, tell us that black kids are underperforming in public schools because of how they’re being taught….

Gay said that if the U.S. school system would do a better job of accommodating the ‘cultural orientations, values and performance styles of ethnically different students’ instead of ‘imposing cultural hegemony,’ then black kids would ‘feel less compelled to sabotage or camouflage their academic achievement to avoid compromising their cultural and ethnic integrity.’ In other words, black kids are being asked to sit still in class, pay attention, follow rules, and complete homework assignments — all of which is a huge imposition on them, if not a racist expectation.

One major problem with this theory is that it can’t explain the performance of other nonwhite students, including black immigrants, who readily adjust to the pedagogic methods of U.S. schools and go on to outperform black Americans. Even black immigrants for whom English is a second language have managed to excel in U.S. schools….”

This only scratches the surface the subject, of course. And, obviously, there are engaged parents and there are Black students who perform well in school, despite hardships and negative influences, and go on to do well professionally. But, it is my understanding that they are, if you’ll pardon the phrase, in the minority.

I don’t know about you, but I find this all fascinating.

To be continued…


The Future Is Here

Over the past couple of weeks, several posts have come across my Facebook feed that consisted of short videos about cool, new, advanced tech. Many of them were from Futurism.com, which I highly recommend you check out. For now, though, I have included a few of my favorites for your amazement and enjoyment….

Robots and Remote-Control

I thought this first “Spidercar” was pretty cool, though I’m not sure if it has much practical application, yet, given that it can’t carry much payload.

“VertiGo: The Wall-Racing Robot”

This little beauty is a great step in safer drone tech, so that it can hover and fly around among humans.

“Fleye – Your Personal Flying Robot”

3D Printing

Here, we have a couple advances in 3D-printing technology applied to medicine…

“This BioInk Can Be Used To 3D Print Cartilage”

… and personal transportation.

“Strati The first 3D printed car.”


Finally, we see the strides that Microsoft is making with hologram projection and some pretty nifty applications!

“ARS gets hands-on with Microsoft HoloLens”

“Microsoft HoloLens: Galaxy Explorer Ep. 6 – Coming to Life”

“Holoportation: virtual 3D teleportation in real-time”


Now, that’s some really cool stuff!

Posted in Science by sirrahc. No Comments

On the Resurrection Hypothesis, part 5 of 5: Conclusion

If you have been following this series, you know that we have covered a lot of ground, including various lines of evidence that generally  — and, in some cases, quite strongly — support the case for Jesus Christ having been physically raised from the dead on the third day after his death and burial. We have endeavored to demonstrate why this is not merely wishful thinking on behalf of the faithful but a reasonable conclusion from objective analysis used in other disciplines, as well. So, I will wrap it up with this…

Concluding Assessment

It has been argued that the same criteria that the Jesus Seminar used (though somewhat questionably and inconsistently) to evaluate the sayings of Jesus can also be used to evaluate the miracles of Jesus. We might, then, apply the same criteria to the evidence for the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection. For example:

jesus-is-alive1) *Multiple attestation.* Several different “resurrection appearance traditions” are recorded in the Gospels and Paul’s epistles. Of course, throughout the NT we see attestation to the fact that the first disciples believed Jesus’ had been resurrected.

2) *Dissimilarity.* The origin of the disciples’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection cannot be explained by prior influences from Judaism or as a ‘retrojection’ of Christian theology.

3) *Embarrassment.* This is exemplified by the discovery of the empty tomb by women. The gospel message would have been better served (from a human perspective, that is) if this role had been played by men.

4) *Context & expectation.* Again, nothing in Jewish teaching expected the Messiah to die, let alone rise from the grave.

5) *Effect.* Adequate cause must be found for established facts like the earliest Jewish polemics about the disciples’ alleged theft of Jesus’ body, the disciples’ transformation after the crucifixion, and the conversions of James and Paul. These can all be sufficiently explained by the empty tomb, the resurrection appearances, and the disciples’ coming to believe in Jesus’ physical resurrection.

6) *Principles of embellishment.* This criterion is the reason why the Markan account of the empty tomb cannot be regarded as legendary, especially when contrasted with the theologically and apologetically embellished account in the Gospel of Peter.

7) *Coherence.* Our three lines of evidence for the fact of Jesus’ resurrection are established independently, yet they hold together, forming a powerful argument for the resurrection’s historicity. In addition, the Apostle Paul’s teaching on the nature of the resurrection body is consistent with Jesus’ physical postmortem appearances and the empty tomb.

But, when considering *all* the evidence, is the resurrection of Jesus the best explanation? Just because all the naturalistic explanations fall short, we can’t let the resurrection hypothesis simply win by default. We need to go back to McCullagh’s criteria for testing a historical explanation and see how well the resurrection hypothesis measures up. Remember, it must…

1) …together with other true statements, imply further statements describing present, observable data. The “present, observable data” consists primarily (though not solely) of the historical NT texts on which the historian bases his reconstruction of the relevant events. Of course, there is also the Christian faith, whose origin must be explained. These are explained by the resurrection hypothesis.

2) …have greater explanatory scope than its rivals. The resurrection hypothesis explains all three categories of evidence (i.e., empty tomb, postmortem appearances, origin of disciples’ belief), whereas rival theories (e.g., hallucinations, women went to wrong tomb, man crucified wasn’t Jesus of Nazareth) only explain one, maybe two.

ascension3) …have greater explanatory power than its rivals. Apparent deaths, conspiracies, etc., just aren’t nearly as convincing as the resurrection hypothesis is in explaining all of the evidence. None of the rivals give adequate reasons for things like the physicality of the resurrection appearances, the disciples’ transformation, or the conversions of Paul and James.

4) …be more plausible than its rivals. When one sets aside any philosophical prejudices against the supernatural, the hypothesis of Jesus’ resurrection is at least as plausible as any other.

5) …be less ad hoc than its rivals. We have explained why the resurrection hypothesis is no more ad hoc (and, in some cases, less so) than its rivals.

6) …be disconfirmed by fewer accepted beliefs than its rivals. What accepted belief disconfirms the resurrection, except possibly “Dead men do not rise”? But, then we’re back to an a priori rejection of the miraculous. A purely natural revivification would be disconfirmed, but not resurrection by the power of God. On the other hand, rival hypotheses are disconfirmed by accepted beliefs, such as the unstable nature of conspiracies, the inevitably fatal result of crucifixion, the psychological characteristics of hallucinations, etc.

7) …so exceed its rivals in fulfilling conditions (2) thru (6) that there is little chance of a rival hypothesis, after further investigation, doing a better job. Over the last three centuries, critics and skeptics have tried to disprove the resurrection of Jesus, or at least give better explanations for the evidence. But, even with the knowledge and resources of contemporary scholarship, they have failed.

The simple fact is that the resurrection is the best explanation of the facts, and there doesn’t seem to be anything better on the horizon.

Case closed.

On that note, I’d like to end with the following passage from Paul’s Letter to the Colossians (ISV):

“2:6 So then, just as you have received the Messiah Jesus the Lord, continue to live dependent on him. 2:7 For you have been rooted in him and are being built up and strengthened in the faith, just as you were taught, while you continue to be thankful. 2:8 See to it that no one enslaves you through philosophy and empty deceit according to human tradition, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to the Messiah, 2:9 because all the essence of deity inhabits him in bodily form. 2:10 And you have been filled by him, who is the head of every ruler and authority. 2:11 In union with him you were also circumcised with a circumcision performed without human hands by stripping off the corrupt nature by the circumcision performed by the Messiah. 2:12 When you were buried with the Messiah in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. 2:13 Even when you were dead because of your offenses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with him when he forgave us all of our offenses, 2:14 having erased the charges that were brought against us, along with their obligations that were hostile to us. He took those charges away when he nailed them to the cross. 2:15 And when he had disarmed the rulers and the authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in the cross.”


Credit where credit is due: The material for defending the historical burial & resurrection of Jesus was primarily adapted from William Lane Craig’s “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?” in the book Jesus Under Fire, eds. J.P. Moreland and Michael J. Wilkins.


On the Resurrection Hypothesis, part 4 of 5: The Disciples’ Belief

Origin of the Disciples’ Belief in Jesus’ Resurrection

Jesus' distraught disciples

Jesus’ distraught disciples

To say that the death of Jesus on the cross was devastating to the disciples would be gross understatement. Despite Jesus’ warnings, they had no concept of a Messiah that would die, much less rise up again. Without the resurrection, Jesus’ shameful death could only be seen as humiliating and cursed by God. Jesus could be remembered as a beloved and wise teacher, but certainly not Messiah or God. But, the resurrection transformed disaster into victory. Now, Jesus’ death could be recognized as the means by which forgiveness of sins could be obtained — the ultimate blood sacrifice. Jesus’ being raised by God from the dead invested His death with salvific significance, and His disciples could proclaim Him as Messiah after all.

Paul wrote that the resurrection was central to the Gospel message, and without it the Christian faith meant nothing (I Cor. 15:12-19). Even the most skeptical scholars agree that at least the belief that Jesus had risen from the dead was at the core of the earliest Christian faith. The Christian Way could never have begun, let alone spread, without it.

So, what caused this belief? If Jesus had not actually been resurrected, then there must be another, better explanation for it, right? Jesus’ disciples (i.e., while He was alive on earth) were all Jewish, so what about the teachings of Judaism? Three places in the Old Testament (Isaiah 26:19; Ezekiel 37; Daniel 12:2) reflect the Jewish doctrine of resurrection. By Jesus’ time, belief in bodily resurrection was a source of hope for many. In Matthew 22:23-33 we even see Jesus siding with the Pharisees against the Sadducees on this matter. So, the concept was at least present in Jewish religious thought.

But, their understanding differed in two major respects from what belief in Jesus’ resurrection required — specifically, in the When and the Who of resurrection.

1) *Jewish doctrine of resurrection was always in regards to the end of world history, never sooner.* Every OT instance of the dead being revivified resulted in a return to mortal life, but the individual(s) would eventually die again. The resurrection to immortality and glory would not happen until God brought about the end of the world. This is the way Jesus’ disciples believed (Mark 9:9-13; John 11:24), so the idea of an actual resurrection before the world’s end was alien to them. Faced with Jesus’ death, they most likely would have enshrined His tomb and waited in anticipation of resurrection on the final day. It was extremely improbable for them to have come to believe He had already been raised.

2) *Jewish doctrine of resurrection was always about the general resurrection of the people, never a single individual.* Whether the entire human race, or all of Israel, or only the righteous, the people’s resurrection was never believed to depend upon the Messiah being resurrected first. Again, the disciples would have waited for the day when God raised Jesus to glory with all the righteous of Israel.

Thus, the disciples’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection cannot be attributed to prior Judaical beliefs.

Could the disciples have been led to their conclusion by certain events following the burial? For example, some have postulated that the disciples had visions of the eschatological Son of Man and interpreted them in terms of the Jewish teaching discussed above. The empty tomb story was then a legend resulting from their belief in Jesus’ resurrection. Despite the fact that this goes against the evidence, how likely is it that such experiences could have caused their belief?

Resurrected Jesus appears in the room

Resurrected Jesus appears in the room

We need to look briefly at the issue of hallucinations again. Hallucinations can only contain that which is already in the mind. Any visions that the disciples had would reflect the Jewish concepts of immortality noted above. They would likely have projected a glorified Jesus in “Abraham’s bosom”, where the righteous dead wait for the final resurrection. But, we have also noted the two significant ways in which Jesus’ resurrection is inconsistent with those concepts.

How then would the disciples’ doctrine of resurrection have developed? An empty tomb by itself could lead to a belief that Jesus was merely translated straight to heaven — a miracle applicable to the recently deceased, as well as the living — like Enoch or Elijah. In contrast to a translation, a resurrection involved a dead person being raised up in the spatio-temporal world to eternal life. Even if discovery of the empty tomb had been followed by hallucinations of Jesus in glory, it is doubtful they would have concluded that He had risen from the grave. More likely, they would have thought that He appeared to them from heaven, where God had translated Him.

Other skeptics have argued that a death-translation model came first, with the death-resurrection scheme developing from it later. The story of the empty tomb then becomes a translation story and postmortem appearances are interpreted as mere visions of the exalted Christ. But, considered more closely, a primitive death-translation scheme leading to the disciples’ belief in and proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection just doesn’t make sense. Plus, there is no evidence to support the primitiveness of a death-translation model without a literal resurrection. To the contrary, specialist in resurrection studies Gerald O’Collins confirms that, if anything, the text indicates the opposite pattern.

The evidence points to the disciples proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection (contrary to Jewish religious thinking) and not a mere translation of Jesus (which would have been compatible with Jewish doctrine). This argues against the disciples experiencing hallucinatory visions of Christ as the cause for their belief in Jesus’ physical resurrection. This belief simply cannot be explained, either through Judaism or the church, unless the resurrection of Jesus is historical fact.

To be concluded in Part 5…

Credit where credit is due: The material for defending the historical burial and resurrection of Jesus was primarily adapted from William Lane Craig’s “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?” in the book Jesus Under Fire, eds. J.P. Moreland and Michael J. Wilkins.


On the Resurrection Hypothesis, part 3 of 5: Postmortem Appearances

Postmortem Appearances

We have four lines of evidence for the historical reliability of Jesus’ appearances to people after His death.

1) *Paul’s testimony shows that the disciples saw appearances of Jesus.* In I Corinthians 15, Paul lists several people to whom Jesus appeared after his death, beginning with Peter individually and the Twelve Apostles (as part of the traditional formula) and ending with Paul himself (ca. AD 36). Again, the early date of the traditions destroys any chance that the appearances were part of legend. Plus, Paul says that many who saw the appearances were still alive to verify the accounts, and Paul was likely acquainted with several of them (e.g., Peter and James). Many of these were eventually executed because of their belief in Jesus’ resurrection, including Peter, James, and Paul himself. This is historically reliable evidence. So, according to Paul, we know that Jesus appeared after His death on separate occasions to different individuals and groups.

2) *Gospel accounts of the resurrection appearances are historically, essentially reliable.* It may not be possible to historically *prove* any particular appearance, but the evidence for the historicity of the Gospels in general suggests that the appearance traditions within them are substantially, historically credible. This is supported by three basic considerations (which may look a little familiar):

On the Road to Emmaus

On the Road to Emmaus

a) Given the short amount of time and geographical distance from the events to the accounts, there just was not enough time for much accrual of legends. According to Roman historian A.N. Sherwin-White, even two generations are not enough time for “the mythical tendency to prevail over the hard historic core of oral tradition.”

b) Rising of legends would be impeded by the continued presence of eyewitnesses in the Christian community. By the same token, if the early appearance traditions were false, it is hard to imagine how they could develop and persist in the face of opposition from first-generation believers who knew better.

c) Authoritative control by the apostles would tend to keep fictitious appearance stories from gaining a foothold as long as they were alive. There may have been discrepancies in certain secondary details, and they may have been influenced by the theology of the “Evangelists”, but the basic traditions could not have been legendary.

So, if the central traditions on which the Gospels rely are historically dependable, then the appearance stories within them are essentially accurate accounts of what happened.

3) *Several of the postmortem appearances have particular historical credibility.* Specifically, these would be the appearances to:

a) The women at the tomb. As stated before, if these women weren’t the actual witnesses, why not make it be someone more “qualified”? (In fact, Paul probably omitted them from his formula because of their lack of legal status.)

b) Peter. Though it is not described in the Gospels, both Luke and Paul attest to this appearance. Peter likely told Paul about it when they met. Virtually all NT scholars recognize its historicity.

c) The Twelve. Both Luke and John (one of the Twelve) relate separate traditions about this appearance. Based on their agreement, it probably happened in Jerusalem on the first Sunday after His crucifixion. The early nature of the traditions and Paul’s personal contact with the disciples prevent these appearances from being mere legend.

d) Disciples fishing on the Lake of Tiberias (aka Sea of Galilee). This early appearance to, and commissioning of, a handful of disciples (John 21) is unusual and indicates an early and accurate tradition. Plus, the eyewitness of John himself stands behind it.

e) An assembly of believers in Galilee. This appearance is predicted by both Jesus and the angels in the pre-Markan Passion story. It is most likely that the event occurred and was referred to in Mark’s source material, which would have been very early in the Christian fellowship.

f) 500+ believers. There is no Gospel account of this, but Paul mentions it and likely refers to those still living for their availability to corroborate the story. Given the size and timing, it was probably an outdoor gathering in Galilee sometime before the disciples went back to Jerusalem.

g) James, brother of Jesus. The Gospels show that Jesus’ family was not exactly sympathetic to His ministry while He was alive, yet James later becomes a leader in the church at Jerusalem. This about-face was probably due to conversion following Jesus’ appearance to him, as referred to by Paul. They may well have discussed it when Paul visited Jerusalem in AD 36.

h) Paul. In Acts 9:1-9 we have Paul’s own account of his encounter with the resurrected Jesus, which radically changed his life. Not only is it extremely difficult to doubt that this happened, but most scholars acknowledge the basic historical reliability of the account.

Thus, from these individual incidents we find that Jesus appeared to varying numbers of His disciples, under varying conditions, in the city of Jerusalem and the nearby region of Galilee.

4) *The ‘resurrection visions’ were physical, bodily appearances.* It is widely conceded by NT critics that Jesus’ disciples did indeed experience “appearances” of Him after the tomb was found empty. But, the more liberal and skeptical of them claim that because it was a “spiritual” body, the visions did not involve any physical manifestations. However there are two good lines of evidence that the resurrection appearances actually were physical.

Doubting Thomas puts finger in Jesus side wound

Doubting Thomas puts finger in Jesus side wound

First, Paul implies that they were of a physical nature. Some scholars claim the opposite, though. They state that, since Paul teaches that the future resurrected bodies of Christian believers will be modeled after Jesus’ resurrection body and they will be spiritual (I Cor. 15:42-49), then Jesus’ resurrection body must be spiritual. True enough, but the error lies in the understanding of what Paul means here by “spiritual”. It does not mean intangible or immaterial. Further study of the Greek words used for “spiritual body” (soma pneumatikon) shows that the “spiritual” aspect has more to do with orientation than with substance. In other words, the transformation of the earthly body is from mortal to immortal, which does not necessitate a change from material to immaterial. It will be a powerful, glorified body prepared for living in the New Creation. It would not have made sense to Paul for an immortal soul to try to inhabit a “body” with no substance.

There are other ways to demonstrate that Paul believed this. Whenever Paul describes a vision, whether “subjective” or “objective”, it was purely a mental experience, whereas resurrection appearances that were recounted involved something “real world”. For example, Paul’s own conversion experience involved audible speech and a bright light. Also, if the appearances were only visions, how would one account for the direction and development of Paul’s doctrine of the resurrection body? If Christ’s resurrection body was not physical, how could Paul teach that Christians’ resurrection bodies, modeled after Christ’s, would be physical?

The second reason is that the Gospels attest that the appearances were physical and bodily. As with Paul, every Gospel mention of a resurrection appearance was of a physical, bodily nature. For example, people touched Jesus or watched Him take a piece of food and eat it. There is no trace of nonphysical visions in any of the various and independent resurrection traditions represented.

Then, as mentioned before, there is the overall, historical reliability of the Gospel resurrection narratives, and the physicalness of Jesus’ risen body is apparent in them all. It is inconceivable how a bunch of stories of visions could be so thoroughly twisted into stories of physical appearances in so short a time and in the presence of eyewitnesses to the events, as well as under the watchful eyes of the apostles responsible for preserving the integrity of the Gospel message.

We have seen that some critical scholars purport that these postmortem appearances were subjective visions (i.e., hallucinations). But this view has some big problems. First, it loses credibility in light of points (2) thru (4) above. Second, the ‘subjective vision’ approach is improbable due to the number and variety of circumstances of the appearances noted by Paul alone. Third, while this hypothesis could explain a belief in Jesus’ translation and exaltation, a bodily rising was inconsistent with Jewish conceptions of resurrection. (More on this in the next section.) Finally, it doesn’t account for the full range of evidence, since it provides no clues for the empty tomb.

To be continued in Part 4…

Happy Easter and a Blessed Resurrection Day!

Credit where credit is due: The material for defending the historical burial & resurrection of Jesus was primarily adapted from William Lane Craig’s “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?” in the book Jesus Under Fire, eds. J.P. Moreland and Michael J. Wilkins.


On the Resurrection Hypothesis, part 2 of 5: The Empty Tomb

Empty Tomb

Let’s start with the ten lines of evidence that support the factuality of Jesus’ empty tomb:

1) *Historical credibility of the burial story.* The two are closely connected. If the burial story is basically correct, both Jews and Christians would have known the site of Jesus’ tomb. If the body was still there, even if the disciples convinced themselves of Jesus’ resurrection, who would have believed them? The Jewish authorities would likely have produced the body and exposed the whole sham right away.

inside view of empty tomb2) *Implications of Paul’s testimony.* One can hardly doubt that Paul accepted the fact of the empty tomb as he did the burial account. We see this from: a) the death-burial-resurrection sequence in I Cor. 15:3-5; b) the Jewish concept of resurrection; c) Paul’s Pharisaic background and language; d) the phrase “on the third day”; e) the expression “from the dead” (Rom. 4:24); f) Paul’s teaching on the resurrection and transformation of the body (I Cor. 15:35-50); and g) his belief in the imminent return of Jesus Christ (I Thess. 4:14-17). This all implies a bodily resurrection, and thus an empty tomb.

Could Paul have believed in an empty tomb if it weren’t actually so? The disciples (including Peter and James, the Lord’s brother) that he met with shortly after his conversion obviously believed that the tomb had been empty since the moment of the resurrection. If not, we would see a different direction in Paul’s theology, trying to explain the resurrection with a body still in the tomb. Furthermore, we have Paul’s use of the phrase “he was raised”, which parallels the “he is risen” from the Gospels.

We must conclude two things: a) The empty tomb tradition is reliable. There was not enough time for a legend to build by the time the formula of I Cor. 15 was drafted, and eyewitnesses to the events would have prevented it. b) By summarizing the empty tomb tradition in the I Cor. 15 formula, Paul undoubtedly knew it and testified to its reliability. If it wasn’t historical, how could Paul or any of the early Christian leaders/writers accept it?

3) *Presence of the empty tomb narrative in the pre-Markan Passion story supports its historical credibility.* Evidence for the tradition in Mark 16:1-8 being part of the pre-Markan Passion story comes from various similarities and interconnectedness between the burial narrative, the empty tomb account, the Passion story, as well as the formula of I Cor. 15:3-5. It has been argued that various references in the events indicate Jerusalem as the source for the pre-Markan Passion account and that it is presupposed in Paul’s Last Supper tradition (I Cor. 11:23-25). This would mean that the pre-Markan Passion story originated in the earliest years of the Jerusalem “church”. The account’s references to the “high priest”, without naming him, suggest that Caiaphas was still in office; this dates the tradition at no later than AD 37, Caiaphas’ last year as high priest.

4) *Mark’s use of “the first day of the week” rather than “on the third day” indicates the primitiveness of the tradition.* The “third day” motif conspicuous in the earliest Christian preaching (summarized in I Cor. 15:3-5) is completely absent in the empty tomb tradition, indicating its very early origin. A later, legendary narrative would almost definitely have incorporated the “third day” motif.

5) *Plain and non-apologetic nature of the narrative itself.* As with the burial story, the empty tomb narrative contains no specifics on the action (i.e., the resurrection) itself. Nor does it include the theological themes typical of later legends. We don’t see any of the colorful, larger-than-life imagery found in apocryphal gospels like the Gospel of Peter (e.g., a talking cross). Instead, there is just the simple, straightforward reporting of what happened.

women discovering the empty tomb6) *Empty tomb was discovered by women.* Even non-outcast women were second-class citizens in Jewish society at the time and were not even considered reliable witnesses in legal cases. If one male had been among those to first discover the empty tomb, he would likely have been given the credit. The fact that women were attributed the discovery makes it most probable that they were in fact the ones to make it. Why humiliate the male leaders unless they couldn’t get around the raw truth of it? Plus, those women named would be known amongst the early believers, making it difficult to associate them with some legend.

7) *Investigation by Peter & John is historically probable.* The two disciples’ visit to the empty tomb is attested not only by tradition (Luke 24:12,24 and John 20:3) but by John himself, writer of the Gospel. (That is, as an eyewitness, John could “flesh out” the traditions used.) Since there is no evidence that the disciples had already “flown” to Galilee at this time (as some critics propose), the implication is that they remained in Jerusalem as stated in the Gospels, making Peter and John’s visit quite plausible. The historicity of their visit is also strengthened by the credibility of Peter’s denial during Jesus’ trial (Mark 14:66-72); since he was in Jerusalem, surely he would want to verify the women’s story.

8) *It would have been practically impossible for the disciples to proclaim the resurrection in Jerusalem if the tomb was not empty.* If the disciples had not checked the tomb, the Jewish authorities surely would have. (Perhaps the Romans, as well.) When the disciples began preaching the resurrection in Jerusalem, these authorities didn’t interfere, probably because the tomb was in fact empty. Furthermore, powerful evidence comes from the fact that the Christian “church”, founded on this very belief that Jesus had physically risen from the grave, began and thrived in the very city in which He had been executed and buried.

9) *Earliest Jewish polemic presupposes the empty tomb.* They didn’t try to claim that Jesus’ body was still in the tomb or had been eaten by dogs in the criminals’ graveyard, as some modern skeptics have proposed. Even from the start, the explanation that the religious leaders prepared and spread was, “His disciples came during the night and stole Him away…” (Matt. 28:13) The obvious implication is that, not only was the correct tomb known, but it was indeed empty.

10) *Fact that Jesus’ tomb was not venerated as a shrine indicates it was empty.* Jewish custom was to preserve the tomb of a holy man or prophet, even venerate it as a shrine. The site’s religious significance came from the prophet’s remains entombed within. There is absolutely no trace of any such treatment of Jesus’ tomb, which makes sense if there were no remains.

In the end, we see there is good evidence that Jesus’ tomb was found empty on Sunday morning by a few of His female followers. Remarkably, even two well-respected Jewish scholars, Pinchas Lapide and Geza Vermes, are convinced of the factuality of the empty tomb based on the historical evidence. Most who object today to the fact of the empty tomb find they must do so on theological or philosophical grounds, rather than historical. According to resurrection research specialist Jacob Kremer,

“By far, most exegetes hold firmly… to the reliability of the biblical statements about the empty tomb.”

To be continued in Part 3…

Meanwhile, have a very Blessed Resurrection Day this coming Sunday!

Credit where credit is due: The material for defending the historical burial & resurrection of Jesus was primarily adapted from William Lane Craig’s “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?” in the book Jesus Under Fire, eds. J.P. Moreland and Michael J. Wilkins.


On the Resurrection Hypothesis, part 1 of 5: Testing Historical Explanations

“The evidence for the resurrection is better than for claimed miracles in any other religion. It’s outstandingly different in quality and quantity.”  — Sir Antony Flew, distinguished British philosopher and renowned non-theist

Last year around this time, some of you may recall that I did a 4-part series called, “On Jesus’ Death”, followed by a fifth article titled, “On Jesus’ Burial”. (Check out this page for the links.) They came out of an old manuscript I had worked on several years before, when I was reading a lot about the case for the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Those first five posts serve to establish a foundation for the “resurrection hypothesis”, which, as promised, I now plan to lay out in another 5-part series over the next 2-3 weeks.

Most people these days use the “minimal facts” approach popularized by Gary Habermas, laying out the 4-6 lines of evidence that are accepted “by nearly every scholar who studies the subject, even the rather skeptical ones.” It is a great method, eliminating as it does some of the more controversial aspects. Some of those minimal facts were already addressed in my posts about the death and burial of Jesus. The rest are included in this series, but I have also included additional helpful information, such as the bit about testing historical explanations given below. As with the earlier posts, I have summarized the source material as best I can, with a few additions of my own….


Testing Historical Explanations

justifying-historical-descriptions - cover 2To determine the best historical explanation for the evidence concerning Jesus’ resurrection, we have to use something called abductive reasoning, or “inference to the best explanation” (IBE). In a scientific setting, the scientist would choose or develop his theory and test it with various experiments. The historian, often working with much less observable or hard data, must propose a particular reconstruction of the past and test by seeing how well it elucidates the evidence.

In his book Justifying Historical Descriptions (Cambridge Studies in Philosophy), C. Behan McCullagh lists the seven factors typically used by historians to test a historical hypothesis. The hypothesis must:

1) together with other true statements, imply further statements describing present, observable data.

2) have greater *explanatory scope* (i.e., imply a greater variety of observable data) than its rivals.

3) have greater *explanatory power* (i.e., make the observable data more probable) than its rivals.

4) be more *plausible* (i.e., be implied by a greater variety of accepted truths, and its negation implied by fewer accepted truths) than its rivals.

5) be less *ad hoc* (i.e., include fewer new suppositions about the past not already implied by existing knowledge) than its rivals.

6) be *disconfirmed by fewer accepted beliefs* (i.e., when conjoined with accepted truths, imply fewer false statements) than its rivals.

7) must so exceed its rivals in fulfilling conditions (2) thru (6) that there is little chance of a rival hypothesis, after further investigation, doing a better job.

Figuring out the best explanation is still no easy task. But, McCullagh advises, if a hypothesis’ scope and power are great enough to account for a larger number and greater variety of facts than any other competitors, then it is likely true. When applying the above criteria to the Christian hypothesis of the resurrection of Jesus, McCullagh observes:

“This hypothesis is of greater explanatory scope and power than other hypotheses which try to account for the relevant evidence, but it is less plausible and more ad hoc than they are. That is why it is difficult to decide on the evidence whether it should be accepted or rejected.”

Let’s look at the issue of plausibility. McCullagh defines *degree of plausibility* as the extent that a hypothesis is implied by present, ‘accepted knowledge’. This includes *background knowledge* (i.e., all knowledge one brings to the inquiry) and the *specific relevant evidence* for the hypothesis. Naturalist and supernaturalist agree that all explanations (e.g., resurrection, stolen body, not really dead, etc.) currently have zero plausibility in regards to background information, since no one living has such knowledge about the actual events. We must then depend on the specific evidence for greater plausibility. Unfortunately, the specific evidence does not argue more strongly for either a naturalistic or resurrection explanation. In fact, historians usually consider both approaches to be made more IMplausible by the specific evidence.

Perhaps McCullagh should have said that the resurrection hypothesis is more *implausible* than its rivals. *Degree of implausibility* would then be the extent that a hypothesis is implied to be false by our present/accepted knowledge. Now, it can’t be that the specific evidence makes the resurrection hypothesis more implausible, since nothing about it implies falsity of such an explanation. So, it must be something in one’s background knowledge that causes him/her to consider the resurrection hypothesis more implausible than its rivals. In other words, everybody knows that “dead men don’t walk.” At least, so says the naturalist.

Did the resurrection really happenTrue, such a thing is not exactly common occurrence, and natural laws and processes cannot revivify anyone/thing that is truly dead. But, does this really apply when assessing the implausibility of Jesus’ resurrection? After all, the hypothesis itself says that Jesus was raised from the dead by God, not by natural means. This has about zero implausibility with respect to our background knowledge. The only way that a naturalist could be justified in considering the resurrection hypothesis implausible would be if s/he had independent reasons to believe the implausibility of God’s existence or His intervention in the world. And that is a whole ‘nother argument altogether!

The bottom line is that a position which rejects the supernatural a priori is just a philosophical bias and actually hinders a fair assessment of all the relevant evidence.

So, what about the proposition that the resurrection hypothesis is more ad hoc than other hypotheses? Well, it seems to me that the only new supposition is that God exists. What about rival theories? Any conspiracy theories require us to question the moral character of the disciples. The ‘swoon theory’ requires that some sort of drug or poison was administered and/or that either the soldier never actually pierced Jesus’ side or it was really just a superficial wound. The ‘hallucination theory’ supposes some sort of emotional and/or religious predisposition for the disciples to project visions of Jesus alive. And so on. None of these things required by rival theories is implied or substantiated by existing knowledge. Plus, anyone who is already a theist already accepts the existence of God, so there would be no new supposition for them. So, the resurrection hypothesis cannot be said to be *more* ad hoc than its rivals.

Is the resurrection hypothesis ad hoc in the sense of appealing to a sort of “God of the gaps” explanation? I don’t think so. (Big surprise.) The earliest Christian apologists, in defending the Gospel miracles, pointed out the religio-historical context in which the supposed miracles were done. A supernatural explanation of the evidences for the resurrection is not ad hoc within the context of Jesus’ extraordinary life, ministry, and personal claims. A supernatural, bodily resurrection is a fitting climax.

Also, when compared to other “miraculous” explanations, the resurrection hypothesis doesn’t seem so ad hoc — e.g., a “biological miracle” that kept Jesus from dying of His injuries on the cross or with the later addition of exposure in the tomb; or, a “psychological miracle” which caused normal people to become conspirators and liars and then willingly give their lives for the lie. Now *these* “miracles” seem to be much more ad hoc and implausible.

Alright… What, then, is the relevant evidence involved in the question of the resurrection of Jesus? It can be grouped under three main categories, which I will address in parts 2-4: 1) the empty tomb, 2) the postmortem appearances of Jesus, and 3) the origin of the disciples’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection.

To be continued in Part 2…

Have a Blessed Palm Sunday!

Credit where credit is due: The material for defending the historical burial & resurrection of Jesus was primarily adapted from William Lane Craig’s “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?” in the book Jesus Under Fire, eds. J.P. Moreland and Michael J. Wilkins.


Why Blacks Typically Support Obama

Yeah, yeah, I know. I should be writing about the current primaries and crop of presidential candidates, not the disappointment-in-chief now in office. But, hey, he’s still in office, and the issues are still relevant. Plus, it’s always good to learn from history. Others of you may be thinking that I, a white man, have no business writing about the behaviors and motivations of Black people. To that I say, 1) hogwash!; 2) I still have a brain and can consider data; and 3) I am actually going to quote a book written by a black guy. So there! ;)

Please Stop Helping UsI’m only about half-way through it, but I am quite enjoying and learning a lot from Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed (2014) by journalist and WSJ editor Jason Riley. Riley has been confirming a few things I suspected but have not done the research to verify. Riley has the documented facts, professional analysis, and personal experience to back it up, the first of which often flies in the face of the liberal “party line” as echoed by many Blacks in America.

In the first chapter, the author begins by discussing Barack Obama’s (re-)election and ongoing popularity, particularly among Blacks. Here is an excerpt:

“If anything, these polls were underestimating black support for the president. In 2012, black turnout would increase from 2008 and 93 percent would pull the lever for Obama, notwithstanding clear evidence that blacks had lost ground on his watch. When Obama took office in January 2009, unemployment was 12.7 percent for blacks and 7.1 percent for whites. On Election Day in November 2012 it was 14.3 percent for blacks and 7 percent for whites, which meant that the black-white unemployment gap had not only persisted, but widened, during Obama’s first term.

It could be that blacks, like so many others who supported his reelection in 2012, were cutting the president slack because the economy was already in bad shape when Obama took office. As one black voter put it to a reporter in August 2011, ‘No president, not Bush, not Obama, could turn the mess that we are in around in four years.’ But in the past, the black approval rating of a president had tended to correlate with the jobless rate. Yet black unemployment was lower under George W. Bush than it had been at any point during the Obama administration. In addition, the black-white income disparity that widened under Obama actually narrowed in the 1980s under President Ronald Reagan, even though Reagan also inherited a weak economy from his predecessor. The Great Recession that began under George W. Bush in December 2007 had officially ended in June 2009, six months after Obama took office.

Economic historians, citing one hundred and fifty years of U.S. business cycles, generally agree that the deeper the recession, the stronger the recovery. Not so under Obama, and not so especially for blacks. A report released by two former Census Bureau officials in August 2013 found that since the end of the recession, median household incomes had fallen 3.6 percent for whites and 10.9 percent for blacks. Which means that even when controlling for the effects of the economic slowdown that Obama inherited, under his presidency blacks have been worse off both in absolute terms and relative to whites. When Fox News’ Sean Hannity asked black talk-show host Tavis Smiley in October 2013 if black Americans were ‘better off five years into the Obama presidency,’ Smiley responded: ‘Let me answer your question very forthrightly: No, they are not. The data is going to indicate, sadly, that when the Obama administration is over, black people will have lost ground in every single leading economic indicator category. On that regard, the president ought to be held responsible.‘ Blacks seem to disagree. According to Gallup, Obama’s job-approval rating among blacks was 85 percent (versus just 43 percent among all groups) when Smiley made those remarks.”

Why do you suppose the economy has been so disappointing, especially for Blacks? Could it be that the policies that Obama and the “progressives” promote and implement are anti-business and bad for the economy? But, the Left continues to push more baloney and Obama sticks to his agenda….

“Broad racial solidarity is another possible explanation for why blacks have remained so bullish on Obama despite his economic record. A black member of Congress told political scientist Carol Swain that ‘one of the advantages, and disadvantages, of representing blacks is their shameless loyalty… You can almost get away with raping babies and be forgiven. You don’t have any vigilance about your performance.’

Ben Jealous (NAACP) / Barack Obama / Marc Morial (NUL)

Ben Jealous (NAACP) / Barack Obama / Marc Morial (NUL)

The political left, which has long embraced identity politics, encourages racial and ethnic loyalty. It is manifest in liberal support for multiculturalism, hate-crime laws, racially gerrymandered voting districts, affirmative-action quotas, and other policies. ‘Stick together, black people,’ says popular black radio host Tom Joyner, and Obama booster. ‘No matter what policies he pursues, the president’s racialized embodiment stands as a symbol of triumphant black achievement,’ asserts MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry. Black politicians have long played off of the notion that blacks owe allegiance to ‘their own.’ Some of the group’s most vicious insults — ‘Uncle Tom,’ ‘Oreo,’ ‘sellout’ — are reserved for those deemed race traitors. Supporting Obama regardless of his job performance is therefore seen by many blacks as not only the right thing to do but the ‘black’ thing to do.

The administration itself has stoked this sentiment in hopes of maintaining strong black support. It has pushed to loosen ‘racist’ drug-sentencing laws. It has sued employers who use criminal background checks to screen job applicants. It has unleashed federal housing officials on white suburban residential communities that it considered insufficiently integrated. The goal is to sustain goodwill with the civil rights establishment and black voters, even if these measures are more symbolic than substantive. Black incarceration rates are not driven by drug laws; empirical research shows that employers who check criminal histories are more likely to hire blacks; and polls have long shown that most black people have no interest in living in mostly white neighborhoods. Yet these kinds of measures are used to foster an ‘us-versus-them’ mentality among blacks and then exploit such thinking for partisan political gain.

Liberals like to complain that, the twice-elected President Obama notwithstanding, we are not a ‘post-racial’ society. The reality is that they wouldn’t have it any other way. Race consciousness helps cohere the political left, and black liberalism’s main agenda is keeping race front and center in our national conversations. That’s why, for example, much more common black-on-black crimes take a back seat to much less common white-on-black crimes. The last thing that organizations like the NAACP want is for America to get ‘beyond’ race. In their view, racial discrimination in one form or another remains a significant barrier to black progress, and government action is the best solution.”

Unfortunately, some will use the above-mentioned epithets against Riley, because he hasn’t bought into what the race-baiters and others on the Left are selling. Thank God for that!

I have an Easter-based series planned for the next few weeks, but maybe after that I’ll post some more from Please Stop Helping Us. Meantime, I highly recommend it, so you may want to pick it up for yourself.


Political Debates, Unsupported Rhetoric, and Scientific Censorship

“Human rights can only be assured among a virtuous people. The general government… can never be in danger of degenerating into a monarchy, an oligarchy, an aristocracy, or any despotic or oppressive form so long as there is any virtue in the body of the people.”  — Gen. George Washington

I just got home from traveling and haven’t had much time to work on a new post. But, I did come across a few interesting/helpful items in recent news that I thought my readers might appreciate — assuming you haven’t already read them, of course.

Marco_Rubio_Donald_Trump_Ted_Cruz_GOP_Debate_Detroit_MI1) First up is the matter of recent GOP debates. Frankly, I’m glad I missed them. I hear enough of the questionable claims and promises, accusations & counter-accusations between candidates via the news, so I can’t really get excited about listening to them bash each other in person. (And that Trump guy really annoys me!) On the other hand, I want to stay informed, plus I find it satisfying when Cruz (and sometimes Rubio) does really well and/or Trump does really badly. So, I was somewhat encouraged to read that that is what happened in Detroit, and I am glad that Cruz and Rubio concentrated their efforts on exposing the sham that Trump is.

In her article “5 Takeaways From Last Night’s GOP Debate In Detroit”, The Federalist‘s Mollie Hemingway bemoaned the state of the system, while making it clear that — in this debate in particular — the blame lies in the petulance, crassness, hypocrisy, and empty rhetoric of ‘The Donald’:

“The debate was a low-point not just in the history of American democracy, but democracy itself. We’re talking end-of-Rome-levels of bad….

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio calmly and consistently made the case that Trump had tons of bluster, but not the policies, temperament, consistency, or trustworthiness needed in a president. They showed how he regularly contradicted himself and that he personally engaged in business practices at odds with his proposals on immigration. They discussed, the few times it came up, their own policy proposals and records on taxes, immigration, religious liberty, and other important issues.

Trump, for his part, protested that his penis wasn’t as small as had been alleged. When asked to provide substance to policy questions, he gratuitously insulted the nearest person. When pressed to give an answer, he acted out and called everyone else liars.”

Classy. (/sarc) The rest of Hemingway’s commentary about the candidates and moderators was good, too.

Hillary Rodham Clinton2) On a related note, Thomas Sowell wrote a column called “Paranoid Politics” a couple weeks ago that I found to be right on the mark. Sowell expresses concern that in the media coverage, the actual impact of the policies that the various candidates are arguing for have taken a backseat to analysis of the candidates’ respective prospects. Using Hillary Clinton as a prime example, Sowell demonstrates how the rhetoric used to obtain votes can be very misleading:

“[For instance, Clinton's] basic pitch to black voters is that they have all sorts of enemies, and that blacks need her to protect them, which she is ready to do if they vote for her. In short, Hillary’s political fate depends on spreading fear and, if possible, paranoia.

Similar attempts to get the votes of women are based on conjuring up enemies who are waging a ‘war on women,’ with Hillary again cast in the role of someone ready to come to their rescue, if they will give her their votes.

In both cases, rhetoric and repetition take the place of hard evidence. The closest thing to evidence being offered is that the average income of blacks is not the same as the average income of whites, and the average income of women is not the same as the average income of men.

But the average incomes of people in their twenties is usually lower than the average income of people in their forties — and by a greater amount than the income difference between women and men, or the income difference between blacks and whites. Does that mean that middle-aged people are enemies of young adults?”

Sowell goes on to use relevant information and probing questions to show that Clinton’s “arguments” on these issues fall woefully short of supporting facts.

“But that will not stop [these] same bogus claim[s] from being made repeatedly this election year.

What about blacks, women or others who believe the political hype? Will that help them improve their lives, or will it be anther [sic] counterproductive distraction for them and another polarization of society that helps nobody, except those who seeking votes?”

Sadly, most people will accept what they want to hear without thinking it through critically or searching for additional, objective data. Speaking of objective data, critical thinking, and presuppositional bias, what do you think of this one…?

journal.pone.0146193.g0013) Earlier this year, the respected scientific journal PLoS ONE published an article titled, “Biomechanical Characteristics of Hand Coordination in Grasping Activities of Daily Living”. However, the researchers had the temerity to not only imply intelligent design but referred to the “Creator” on multiple occasions. True to form, certain members of the scientific community (including a few who do editing work for the journal in question) have reacted with anger and disgust, demanding that PLoS ONE retract the article immediately and that those responsible be flogged with wet noodles. (OK, I made that last bit up. FSM forgive me!)

The paper’s Chinese authors have appealed to translation errors, saying,

“What we would like to express is that the biomechanical characteristic of tendi[n]ous connective architecture between muscles and articulations is a proper “design” by the Nature (result of evolution) to perform a multitude of daily grasping tasks. We will change the “Creator” to “nature” in the revised manuscript. We apologize for any troubles may have caused by this misunderstanding.”

The journal’s staff have apologized for not addressing the “Creator” issue during evaluation, and on 3/4/2016 they announced that a retraction is imminent.

“The PLOS ONE editors have followed up on the concerns raised about this publication. We have completed an evaluation of the history of the submission and received advice from two experts in our editorial board. Our internal review and the advice we have received have confirmed the concerns about the article and revealed that the peer review process did not adequately evaluate several aspects of the work….

In light of the concerns identified, the PLOS ONE editors have decided to retract the article, the retraction is being processed and will be posted as soon as possible. We apologize for the errors and oversight leading to the publication of this paper.”

As far as I can tell, the researchers’ methodology and results have not been questioned — only the apparently non-naturalistic (aka “pseudoscientific”) statements and implications. Even anti-theist P.Z. Myers admitted,

“There’s nothing wrong with the data that I can see, but the authors do make a surprising leap in the abstract and conclusion.”

While any theistic interpretations may have been accidental in this case, we can once again see the taboo (at least, in the West) manifest against a scientist even implying that his research may support the idea of Intelligent Design (let alone some form of creationism, with which ID Theory is often unfairly conflated), lest his findings be relegated to the trash heap as “unscientific” and his own professional integrity questioned. Yet, those who are, shall we say, less than convinced of purely naturalistic theories are slammed for not having papers supporting their views published in peer-reviewed journals. See how that works?

As DLH summed up at “Uncommon Descent”,

“How are these actions by evolutionists, Bolton, Nature, and PLOSOne any different from book burning, anti-scientific inquisition, and Lysenkoism? Why not follow the scientific method, clearly lay out the null hypothesis and proposed model and quantitatively test both?”

Why not, indeed, except that anything that questions or puts at risk their favored theories is an affront to the high priests of scientism and tantamount to heresy. It must be ridiculed and/or expunged from the public record!

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