Monday, June 01, 2020

A Tribute To Peggy Hodgson

(From left to right: Janet, Billy, Peggy, Johnny, and Margaret Hodgson.)

(I'm going to be citing Maurice Grosse and Guy Playfair's Enfield tapes below. I'll use "MG" to refer to tapes from Grosse's collection and "GP" to refer to those from Playfair's. So, MG12A is Grosse's tape 12A, GP58B is Playfair's tape 58B, etc.)

The one person involved in the Enfield case who probably witnessed and suffered more than anybody else, and contributed to the good that's been done through the case more than anybody, is Peggy Hodgson. Her story ought to be told more than it has been.

In early November of 1977, apparently while at his own house one day, Maurice Grosse recorded some of his thoughts on the Enfield case:

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Don't catch you slippin' now

Coram Deo asked a good question about why people riot. In general, I presume there are many different reasons. I offered a brief response in the post, but I'm sure it could be expanded and improved.

However, in the case of George Floyd, much of it is due to perceived racism. The kind of thing epitomized in Childish Gambino's "This Is America". George Floyd is coming on the heels of Ahmaud Audrey and Breanna Taylor too.

Yet, perception isn't necessarily reality. Is it only black folks and other minorities targeted by the police? Consider the tragic case of Daniel Shaver only a few years ago. The officer who killed Shaver was found not guilty.

Anyway, there's a lot of pent-up frustration against authorities in general, especially the police, police brutality, the blue wall of silence. A lot of it justified, in my view. There are a lot of corrupt cops. Cops who don't serve and protect. Of course, I'm not suggesting riots are the answer. Not at all. I don't defend the riots.

That said, I want to come to my main point: I think the left is fomenting a lot of the riots. Leftist agitators. Take arguments like this which attempt to justify violent protests. Likewise take how some argue "black rage" is a "spiritual virtue". Take the house that Obama built (e.g. Obama arguably inciting blacks against authorities). Take the fact that "Biden's staff is donating to a group that funds the release of rioters" (source).

It's as if leftists are using Floyd's death as a pretext to push their agenda. It's as if leftists want a second civil war. A revolution.

If so, I suppose that'd be in line with what socialists and communists have always wanted. To build a new world atop the ash heaps of the old world, the world of their fathers. They don't honor their parents, but wish to commit patricide and matricide. They're not their grandfathers' sons, but their grandfathers' slayers. Destroy Amerikkka, arise Utopia.

I don't think the US today can be defeated by external forces (e.g. China), but I think we could defeat ourselves by tearing ourselves apart. Many on the left are like a fifth column in the US.

Update. Andy Ngo, who himself was a victim of Antifa, makes good observations which overlap with mine.

Are white cops more likely to shoot minorities?

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Can We Talk about Death?

McLatchie vs. Blais on miracles & probability

Just some observations after listening to the debate:

1. This wasn't primarily a debate over Hume and miracles. It started off that way, with brief argumentation involving Bayesian probabilities, but it quickly went off the rails. Rather the debate was a far-ranging debate that covered a lot of other topics. For example, some time was spent on debating Jesus' triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, biblical inconsistencies, undesigned coincidences, and the dates of the Gospel. I think Jonathan won these debates; Blais didn't seem terribly familiar with the biblical material except in broad strokes. Also, the last moments of the debate were mainly spent debating design. Jonathan easily won this part of the debate, hands-down. Blais was obviously out of his element.

2. That said, I think Blais spoke the most throughout the debate, both in terms of amount of words and amount of time. In fact, Blais seemed to realize this when at one point he admitted he didn't want to "dominate" the debate. Yet Blais still kept interrupting Jonathan throughout the debate.

In fairness, Jonathan could have been more assertive. And the moderator (not Justin Brierley) could have done a better job at steering and focusing the debate. The moderator was far too hands-off.

3. At times, Blais came across like he was attempting the Gish gallop. The stated debate topic was on Hume and miracles, but Blais brought up the existence of God, the various flavors of theism (e.g. Blais thinks the Norse god Loki counts), the historical reliability of the Bible, biblical inconsistencies, the reliability of testimonial evidence, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, the canonical status of biblical books (e.g. Timothy), scribal interpolations (e.g. the woman caught in adultery), Jesus mythicism, parallels between early Christianity and other religions (e.g. Mormonism), parallels or analogies between miracles and UFO sightings, the progress of science dispelling superstition, and so on as if he expected Jonathan to address each and every one of these. Yet each of these could make for separate debates in their own right.

4. Nevertheless, there wasn't anything particularly novel or unfamiliar with what Blais brought up, at least not to anyone who has followed Christian and atheist debates. Blais cites and is obviously heavily relying on secular atheists like Carl Sagan, Robert Price, Richard Carrier, Sean Carroll, among others. There have been reasonable responses to most if not all of these by Triablogue members and many other Christian apologists.

5. Blais expected testimonial evidence about miracles to rise to the standard of a randomized controlled trial in modern medical research. However, why should an RCT even be an appropriate test of miracle claims in the first place? Also, it's not as if it'd be empirically possible to do an RCT on someone rising from the dead. And as far as that goes, there's nothing necessarily wrong with accepting the reliability and credibility of a single case study that's been well documented. Indeed, it only takes one bona fide miracle to demonstrate the possibility of miracles.

6. Blais tried to draw parallels between UFO sightings and Christian miracle claims. However, he needs to present an argument for why UFO sightings parallel or are analogous to Christian claims about miracles in the first place. Otherwise it's like seeing parallels between (say) Jesus' death and resurrection and the Osiris myth, but on closer inspection they're not alike.

What is the medical impact of the lockdown?

Here's a good interview with an emergency physician as well as lawyer named Simone Gold (MD Chicago Medical School, JD Stanford University):

Dividing Genesis

Friday, May 29, 2020

Universal Masking in Hospitals in the Covid-19 Era

Caught on camera

Regarding the George Floyd controversy, I'm baffled by the mind-numbing stupidity of the police in this situation. Between dashcams, body cams, and the ubiquity of private citizens toting portable electronic cameras, the public activities of the police are under almost constant surveillance, so how can they lack the presence of mind to anticipate the fallout if something like this is caught on camera? It's not just a case of failing to take Floyd's interests into consideration, for his own sake. The real puzzle is why the officer failed to take Floyd's interests into consideration for the officer's sake. The officer was acting in a way detrimental to the officer's self-interest if this became another viral video of cops behaving badly. Morality aside, why do we have cops who can't see how they are acting contrary to their own best interests? How can they be so short-sighted?

To some degree this is encouraged by grand juries that give police a slap on the wrist. But it seems to run deeper than that.

One of the oddities of human nature is the capacity for highly compartmentalized identities. Humans are into role-playing. When we wear a uniform, it's easy to become detached from our natural identity and adopt the persona of the uniform. I'm no longer me but the man in the uniform. I'm not responsible for my actions: the man in the uniform is. Likewise tribesmen who wear face paint to camouflage their natural identity and project a different persona. They are blameless. It's the man in the face paint who did it. Or the man in the badge. They don't seem to see themselves doing it. Then they're blinded-sided by the reaction of outsiders.

Clarence Thomas

This PBS documentary is only available to watch for free for a couple more days:

"Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words"

George Floyd

I don't know how accurate this is, but for what it's worth:

"George Floyd Left a Gospel Legacy in Houston"

Thursday, May 28, 2020

That's just your interpretation!

A highly agitated performance by apostate Randal Rauser

1. Throughout the video, Rauser plays his dogeared hand about how conservative Christians collapse their interpretation of scripture into scripture itself. Yet his application of that distinction is totally one-sided inasmuch as he exempts his progressive interpretation from the distinction he urges on conservative Christians. The conservative understanding is just their interpretation whereas his progressive interpretation is true. 

2. He says the OT prophets had a false understanding of God because they didn't believe in the Incarnation or the possibility of an Incarnation. But that fails to distinguish between lacking belief in something, due to ignorance, and denying something. For instance, they didn't know that Jesus would be the messiah. That doesn't mean they disaffirmed the messiahship of Jesus. They just had no idea who Jesus was. They didn't know who the messiah was going to be at that level of biographical detail. But that hardly implies that they'd be opposed to Jesus as the fulfillment of messianic prophecy.

Notice how radical Rauser's position is. The messiahship of Jesus requires OT validation. Yet Rauser says OT prophets had a false concept of the messiah. Evidently he interprets the OT in unitarian terms. 

The question at issue isn't whether OT prophets were consciously Trinitarian but whether OT theism is consistent with or open to the revelation of the Trinity and Incarnation. 

In addition, while the OT witness of the Trinity is oblique, the OT contains many passages that dovetail with the more explicit witness to the Trinity. This isn't a reversal of OT theism.

A fundamental purpose of the OT is to correct false views of God. Pagan views. Not to substitute a different false view of God.

3. He also attacks the imprecatory psalms as expressing false views of God. That's another hobby horse of his. 

He says we should use Jesus as our standard of comparison to correct the OT. But that's duplicitous because, as he's expressed elsewhere, he regards Jesus as a fallible, timebound, culturally-conditioned teacher, based on Rauser's Kenotic Christology. Rauser's yardstick isn't Jesus but Rauser's moral intuitions. 

Doubt is not denial

To begin with, Rauser's a bully. He attacks soft targets. He routinely picks on Christian laymen who lack his sophistication.

In addition, he's duplicitous. Rauser's problem isn't doubt. Rauser is very dogmatic. He's convinced the Bible teaches moral and factual falsehood–including Jesus. Doubt isn't the same thing as denial. Rauser is pulling a bait-switch scam. Randal Rauser openly denies biblical teaching. And he's made it his mission in life to destroy faith in Scripture so that he can replace it with his progressive substitute for Christianity.

I have little sympathy for Christian college profs. or seminary profs. who suffer from an intellectual crisis of faith. At that stage in their education and intellectual development, they should have worked through the stock intellectual objections to Christianity. I'm more sympathetic to emotional doubt if their crisis is due to personal tragedy. Even then, they need some theodicies to fall back on.

Life From A Buried Seed

A couple of examples came to mind recently of people who bore unexpected fruit after their death:

"At a conference in Mildway in June 1876, Andrew Bonar met Constance Bullen, with whom [Robert] M'Cheyne had been well acquainted when eighteen years of age. His conversion then made little impression on her and neither did the poem which he dedicated to her at that time. Her attention was focused rather on worldly pleasures, and the sad Robert gave expression to his emotions in a poem: 'She chose the world.' She had preserved a lock of hair together with a verse of poetry that he had written for her. Her heart was touched, however, at the news of his death, and shortly afterwards she decided to follow the narrow way. Her former friend could not witness this experience; she was 'as one born out of due time,' Robert being merely instrumental in leading her to the Lord." (L.J. Van Valen, Constrained By His Love [Scotland: Christian Focus, 2002], 440)

"George Mueller, the British pastor who loved orphans and lived by faith in a most remarkable way, prayed daily for some people for fifty-two years. He never saw their conversion, but his biographer tells us that a couple of them were converted at his funeral…there are examples where prayer worked but the people praying didn't know it." (John Piper)