googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: November 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Isaiah 43:10: Ye are My Witnesses

How do we go about being His witnesses?  Are we supposed to merely live by the word or to also share it with others?  That was the discussion in this video where a tearful woman confronts a street preacher.  I think the preacher nails it.

Jesus said the world hated Him because He testified against it and said its deeds were evil (John 7:7).  This woman seems to believe that if the world hates you, then you're doing something wrong.  I say that if the world loves you then you're doing something wrong.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Drake Equation: It Might Sound Good on Paper

Evolutionists are believers in junk science. I've know it for a long time yet I've never become used to their level of absurdity. These people, who claim to be the epitome of scientific inquiry and objective thinking, should simply resign themselves to the fact that they are producing science fiction and not actually practicing science.

Have you heard of the Drake Equation? According to Wiki, it's “a mathematical equation used to estimate the number of detectable extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy.” The formula has been around since 1961, but in spite of decades of searching for extraterrestrial life, the actual number we've detected remains at zero. Of course, secular scientists remain undaunted. Their theory virtually demands there be extraterrestrial life so they continue under the delusion that the universe teems with alien civilizations and the Drake Equation is a way to estimate just how many there might be. From Wiki:

The Drake equation states that:

N = R* · fp · ne · fe · fi · fc · L

N = the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which communication might be possible (i.e. which are on our current past light cone);
R* = the average rate of star formation per year in our galaxy
fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets
ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
fe = the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop life at some point
fi = the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop intelligent life
fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space
L = the length of time for which such civilizations release detectable signals into space
Now, I'm a firm believer in probability. In a recent post, I discussed the Law of Large Numbers where I explained that, given a large enough sample, we can predict the outcome with uncanny certainty. However, we can still calculate probability even in small samples. Consider a deck of cards: I know that there is a 1 in 52 chance of drawing the ace of spades at random. I know there is a 1 in 13 chance of drawing an ace of any suit. I also know there is a 1 in 4 chance of drawing any spade. I am able to calculate the odds because I know the number of cards in the deck, the number of aces, and the number of spades. As we read through the Drake Equation, though, we see a lot of variables have unknown values. How should we go about finding the probability of them? Let's look at a few.

R* is the rate of star formation per year in our galaxy. That's curious. What is the observed number of stars being formed each year? Would it surprise you to know that, even with all our advanced technology, we've never once observed a star ignite? We've seen many extinguished but none formed. Not one time. Ever! So the actual observed rate of star formation per year is zero. Since the rest of the formula is multiplying by R*, the product is necessarily zero but let's look at a few of the other variables for the fun of it.

fe is the fraction of habitable planets that actually go on to develop life at some point. Now that's funny. We've never once observed life formed spontaneously. Not one time. Ever! So how do we estimate the fraction the planets that would develop life? If we apply the scientific standard of observable and repeatable, then this variable must also be zero. That is the only scientifically valid possibility. Any value other than zero assigned to this variable is merely fanciful speculation.

If we understand the value of fe to be zero, then fi and fc must necessarily be zero as well. After all, if life does not form, then neither will intelligent life nor technology. Once again, any value other than zero assigned to these variables are merely invention. Any other value that scientists assign to these variables does not have any basis in science.

Drake himself assigned some crazy values to these variables. He estimate that 1 star per year has been formed over the life of the galaxy (remember, we've observed zero). He estimated that 1/5 to 1/2 will have planets and stars with planets will have between 1 and 5 planets capable of supporting life (we've actually discovered extra-solar planets so I'll not press this point). Here's where he really looses it: he says that 100% of planets capable of supporting life will not only evolve life but will also evolve intelligent life. Ha! We've never observed abiogenesis and he claims it happened on every planet that could support life. When it's all said and done, Drake believed there are between 1,000 and 100,000,000 civilizations in our galaxy! Incredible!! We've observed none and he believes there could be 100 million.

How does this kind of stuff not get laughed at by the rest of the scientific community? Where is “peer review” and critical examination? Where is going wherever the evidence leads? Are we really supposed to believe there is evidence for even a single, extraterrestrial civilization (never mind many)? This is obviously a case of having a conclusion then looking for the evidence to support it.

OK, I admit that Drake has his critics. However, a belief in extraterrestrial life is mainstream in the scientific community. Sagan, Dawkins, Hawking, and many others have all endorsed it. They have endorsed it without a shred of scientific evidence for it. They believe it merely out of faith in their theory. So even though some scientists might nit pick at Drake's equation, they will never dismiss his premise outright because they are too invested in the crackpot idea of ET.

The Drake equation might sound good on paper but it's no more scientific than an episode of Gene Roddenberry's, Star Trek. Drake might as well have calculated the odds of discovering Vulcan.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Abiogenesis is Not Science

In my last post, I spent a good deal of time explaining that even events of the past can only be studied scientifically in the present. The past cannot be repeated but many mundane events can be repeated so even if we can't repeat one, particular event, we can still compare it to similar events that we can observe. For example, comparing fingerprints of suspects to the fingerprints found at a crime scene is a scientific method that can be repeated and tested even though any particular crime cannot be repeated. However, if some event were absolutely unique – that is, it happened only once and nothing like it has ever happened since – then how could we study it? We can't, scientifically. If something were unobserved and if there is no way to repeat it, in simply cannot be examined with a scientific method that demands repeatability. Therefore, such an event is outside of the realm of scientific inquiry.

I believe Abiogenesis is such an event. Abiogenesis has never been observed. Ever. It not only does not occur in nature, we have also not been able to create life in a lab.  If it happened, we missed it.  Neither have we ever seen anything like it.  Any idea about how it happened is merely speculation.  It's a guess.  There is no scientific "theory" of abiogenesis.

Once upon a time, people believed in such a thing as “spontaneous generation.” They believed that maggots simply sprang out of rotting meat and mice were born out of bags of grain. They eventually discovered the true origins of these higher forms of life but the belief in the spontaneous generation of “simple” organisms – like an amoeba – endured to the time of Darwin.

Louise Pasteur challenged the idea of spontaneous generation and tested supposed examples where people believed it occurred. He discovered that when water clouded, it was because of the multiplication of microscopic organisms that were already present in the water. He established the Law of Biogenesis that basically says life comes from other life.

The idea of abiogenesis is simply a fancier name for spontaneous generation. It is still the idea that life came from non-life. So abiogenesis has not only never been observed, it is a throw back to an idea that was discarded by science not too long after blood-letting was. It cannot be studied by the scientific method because it is not observed, testable, or repeatable. It's worse than science fiction; it is a fairy tale.

The other thing about abiogenesis is that, even if we someday create life in the lab, there is still no way to know if that was THE way it supposedly happened billions of years ago. If I invented a clever way to stack large stones, for example, it doesn't mean that's exactly how the builders of Stone Henge did it. What's more, if we created artificial life, it's not even evidence that abiogenesis ever occurred. In my opinion, the simple fact that it does not occur naturally but can only be created by design (if we ever create it at all) is evidence for my theory!

So let's sum up: Abiogenesis cannot be studied with the scientific method. It has never been observed. It cannot be repeated. It cannot be tested. Does that cover it?

Abiogenesis is the god of the gaps to evolutionists. There is no scientific evidence for it. It only exists in theory because the “natural only” premise of evolution demands it. It's not science. It's not even close.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Science is Only Done in the Present

A few weeks back, I wrote about the absurd improbability of abiogenesis. In that post, I remarked that, The supposed first ancestor of everything was not observed. Neither can it be repeated or tested. It's outside of the scope of scientific inquiry.” Steven J, a frequent visitor to my blog, took issue with that and replied with the following statement:

The death of a particular person is often unobserved, and always unrepeatable, yet for some reason governments still keep medical examiners on hand. You can't burn the same building down more than once, yet arson investigators still exist. The investigation of past events from present evidence is the basis of many different fields of investigation. The prehistoric past is no more beyond scientific investigation than last night in an unobserved alley.”

I didn't address this point in my comment back to him because I had intended to use his point as the subject for a future post. I just didn't realize it would take as long as it has. Anyway, I've heard this point before and I've meant to write about this many times so I thank Steven J for the opportunity to clear up the subject.

Science in only ever conducted in the present. Always! A fossil, for example, may have been created in the past but we can only study it in the present. We can measure it, x-ray it, compare it to the bones of living animals, compare it to other fossils we've found, and subject it to a wide battery of tests. All the things that we can do to learn more about the fossil can only be done in the present. We cannot go back into the past and “observe” the suspect animal. I can repeat the tests done on the fossil in the present. I cannot repeat the animal and nor can I repeat the alleged “millions of years” the fossil has been buried. The idea that science is only conducted in the present seems to me to be self evident.

Of course, simply because we cannot repeat the past does not mean we cannot draw conclusions – even correct conclusions – about events we did not see. As Steven J pointed out, we do it frequently. When a person dies, we certainly cannot repeat the death of that person yet we still are usually able to determine the cause of his death. The difference here, though, is that people die every day. Many times we observe people die. We've seen enough heart attack victims to know the symptoms of a heart attack. We've seen enough shooting victims to know what a gunshot wound looks like. So in the case of a suspicious death, we can examine the body, compare it to other conditions which we have observed, and draw a reasonable conclusion about the cause of death.

Furthermore, in the case of something like a shooting, we may not have seen the gun being fired but if we have a suspect gun, we can fire the gun again then compare the bullet we observed being fired to the bullet we recovered from the victim. Perhaps we can conclude if the same gun fired both bullets.

In any shooting, as well as in cases of arson, or burglaries, or plane crashes, or train derailments, or any event we wish to examine, we can gather clues left by the event we didn't witness, and compare them to things we know to be true. We often can learn things about the past event but we still can only study it in the present!

Now, when we're talking about evolutionary science, there's a key difference between studying things like abiogenesis and investigating homicides. Both are events from the past but we've observed homicides; To this day, we've never observed abiogenesis. We can see how a gunshot wound to the heart is always fatal. We have never seen how non-living chemicals can be arranged to become a living cell. What's more, abiogenesis is such a unique event and so far removed from us that, even if we should someday create life in a laboratory, there is ultimately no way to confirm that is how it supposedly happened billions of years ago. Studying mundane events like homicides is science. “Studying” abiogenesis is mere speculation.

Another thing we can't observe is age. Using again the example of homicide, we've seen how victims decompose over a day, or a week, or a year (sorry to be gory) but we've never observed “millions of years.” We can observe the condition of bodies we know have been dead a certain length of time and compare that to a body which has been dead an unknown length of time.  We cannot see the time; we can only see the known effects of time on the body.  So to say a particular fossil is “65 million years old” is dramatically different than saying a victim has been dead for a week. One can be repeated and tested empirically and the other cannot.

Age” simply cannot be seen. When we see an “old” person, we aren't really seeing his age but are seeing things like wrinkles, a stooped posture, and gray hair. We have seen these similar characteristics in people whose ages we know and so when we see these features on a stranger, we can estimate his age. However, when we're talking about the age of the earth, we've never seen what a 4 billion year old earth looks like.

I don't want to make this post too long but I have to mention one other thing because I know some evolutionist will bring it up. Scientists love to say that when we're looking at space we're looking into the past. Even the light from distant stars is only observed in the present! It's true that the light has taken time to reach us but we are still seeing the light in the present. We are not seeing the supposed “millions of years” it took the light to reach us.

This is one of the things I'm really tired of arguing with evolutionists about. I can understand reaching different conclusions about the same evidence but believing we can literally see the past is ridiculous. It also frustrates rational discussion since many evolutionists cannot see the circular nature of their view. When we look at a fossil, we are not looking at the past: if a person believes he sees “millions of years” when he looks at a fossil, he is assuming something about the fossil that he should be seeking to discover. How did the fossil come to be? When did the fossil come to be? We can use science to explore these questions but we can only explore them in the present.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My New Taxes Under Obama

I'm not one of the 1% that has been maligned by the left. I do pay taxes so I guess I'm not in the bottom 47% either. I'm what you would call “middle class” in every sense of the word. Why then are my taxes going up? I'll tell you why – It's the Affordable Care Act AKA Obamacare. Just recently, my employer published a little pamphlet that detailed how the new healthcare laws would effect our coverage at work. I don't like the changes. Here are a few of the changes that effect me the most.

First, Health Savings Accounts (HSA) can no longer be used to buy over the counter drugs. It used to be that I could use my HSA to buy allergy pills for my son or naproxen for my wife's arthritis. By using my HSA, it meant that I was spending “before tax” dollars to pay for these over the counter drugs so if I spent $20 per month on these pills, I essentially took $240 off my taxable income each year. I still have to buy these pills, but thanks to Obamacare, I now use “after tax” dollars which means I'm now taxed on that $240. In a 20% tax bracket, that's $48 more in taxes just on my over the counter drug costs!

Another big change is in the tax deductible portion of medical costs. Currently, a person or family can deduct the actual cost of their medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of his/their income. Under Obamacare, that is increasing to 10%. Here's an example of how that costs more money: Suppose a struggling family makes $50,000 per year and has $5,000 in out of pocket medical costs. 7.5% of $50K is $3,750 so under the currently plan, they could deduct $1,250 from their taxable income ($5,000 in expenses minus the $3,750 threshold). Again assuming a 20% tax bracket, that would reduce this family's taxes by $250. Under the new plan, the new threshold is 10%. 10% of $50K is $5,000 so this same family under the same circumstances cannot deduct anything!

Still another change impacts those people (like me) who have high deductible insurance plans. Under my current insurance plan, I have a $3000/person or $6,000/family deductible per year. It sounds high but with my HSA, it's not bad. Under high deductible plans, the insurance companies are not paying for every little trip to the doctor (my HSA covers most of these) but I am insured against a catastrophic illness. I like this plan. It keeps my premiums low yet I still have peace of mind knowing that I'm covered if something terrible should happen. In the last 3 years with my employer, I haven't once reached the $3000 individual deductible.

Under the new plan, the maximum allowable deductible is only $2,000/person. Even though I've never actually had to pay $3,000 out of my pocket, I'm going to start having higher costs in the form of higher premiums. I haven't yet gotten the new rates but, on a family plan, I am certain my premiums will increase at least $100 per month. That may not be a new tax, but it's still more money out of my pocket each month because of Obamacare.

Yet the biggest tax increase will be in the employer paid portion of medical insurance. Under Obamacare, employers will start including the employer's cost for the employee's medical insurance on the employee's W2! So, if my employer is paying $400 per month for my insurance, I can expect to see a $4,800 item on my W2. Again, if we assume a 20% tax bracket, that's $960 more in taxes I'll have to pay. But mine is not even the worst. It's those employees who have the so-called “Cadillac” plans (like many union workers) who will get hurt the most by this. If a high paid, union worker has a real sweet, low deductible, family plan where his employer is paying $700, $800, or even more each month, that employee is going to face an increased tax burden of thousands of dollars! It's no wonder Obama has been writing waivers for many of his union buddies. I wonder how long that's going to last once this part of Obamacare takes effect?

Do you remember when Obama said if we liked our currently plans then we could keep them? That was a lie. Do you remember when Obama said that his new plan would lower healthcare costs? That was a lie. Do you remember when Obama said he wouldn't raise taxes on the middle class? That was a lie. Do you remember when Obama said he wouldn't support healthcare reform if it added one dime to the deficit? That was a lie too because the CBO says Obamacare will add $1.2 trillion to the deficit over the next ten years. Even the name, The Affordable Care Act, is a lie because I can't afford it and neither can the nation.

Obama was right about one thing; he had promised change. How sad it is that we just blew our chance to change it back.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Yawn Factor

People who read my blog have probably already guessed that I'm very disappointed and a little surprised by the election results. There's been a lot of talk from the right since Tuesday about why we lost the election and theories abound. In my opinion, Obama rivals Jimmy Carter as the worst President in my lifetime. Both are failures in their foreign policy. Both presided over disastrous economies. Both saw fuel prices sky rocket during their terms. At least Carter can be thanked for real estate values rising during his time in office (a silver lining in the gloomy cloud of the high inflation seen in the 70's) but home owners have watched the values of their homes fall below the amounts of their mortgages due to Obama's lack of a plan to save the housing market.

As much of a failure as Obama had been, I was under the impression that there was no way he could be reelected. The disappointment in his policies hasn't just been felt by me and other Republicans, many Democrats have felt the same way. Support for Obama has waned considerably since 2008. Obama was elected into office with 69,498,516 votes. That was nearly 10 million more votes than McCain received. In this last election, 9 million fewer people voted for Obama. If just ½ of those 9 million had voted for Romney this time, he would have been elected. Instead, they must have decided to stay home.

The ebb in Obama support is only ½ the story. If Romney could have held on all the McCain voters, he would have only needed a few hundred thousand more votes to beat Obama. With the eagerness of the right to get Obama out of the office, I would have thought everyone and his brother would drag people to the polls to vote. But it was not to be. Romney actually got 2 million fewer votes than McCain did!

It seems to me that elections are being decided not as much by the engaged voters but rather the apathetic couch potatoes. Conservatism beats liberalism every time and if we had true conservative candidates, people would turn out in droves to vote for him. Every primary, though, Republicans vote for the candidates they think are the “most electable.” They look for moderates who will supposedly appeal to the “independent” voter so we end up with weak candidates like Romney, McCain, and Bob Dole.

There's nothing appealing about Obama's policies. He certainly can't boast a successful record. He should be an easy candidate to beat. Why couldn't we beat him. We don't have a candidate that conservative voters can be enthusiastic about.

Have you ever heard a Republican say he would hold his nose and vote for McCain or Romney? It's because they're not excited about the candidate but would prefer him over a Democrat like Obama. If a Reagan-like conservative were on the top of the Republican ticket, people would turn out in droves to vote for him. As it it now, they vote reluctantly or stay home.