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Archive for March, 2017

Creation of ManThe times they are a-changing wrote Bob Dylan over 50 years ago. And if those words were true then, they are at least as apropos today.

If you doubt that, consider this headline: NBC Reports ‘History’: Oregon Judge Grants Right To Be ‘Agender. ‘

Now perhaps like me and you’re an old fuddy-duddy going about your business with the antiquated notion that there are only two genders. How intolerant of you! Quite obviously you’re stuck in a repressive intellectual paradigm and are badly in need of a cultural Marxist re-education.

As NBC breathlessly reports,

History was quietly made in Oregon this month when a judge granted a Portlander’s request to become genderless.

Patch, a 27-year-old video game designer, is likely the first legally agender person in the United States.

The Multnomah County Court granted Patch a “General Judgment of Name and Sex Change” on March 10. In the same judgment, Patch was also allowed to change names, becoming monomymous – meaning only having one name instead of a given name and a surname.

Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Amy Holmes Hehn commenting on this and a similar ruling of hers last year explained her decision thus,

I made these decisions, like all decisions, because they were supported by facts and law, and out of respect for the dignity of the people who came before me.

The judge did not elaborate on what facts and what laws led to her decision, only that we are to accept that her decision was in accord with her normal practice.

Very clearly the judge did not have in mind the Law of God when she made her decision.

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Panopticon_5.jpgEnglish philosopher Jeremy Bentham is best known today for his utilitarian ethics, in which he posited that “the greatest happiness of the greatest number is the measure of right and wrong.” This of course is far from Christian ethics which posits that the law of God is the measure of right and wrong.

Perhaps less well known is that Bentham left directions that, upon his death, his body was to be publicly dissected and his head mummified.

His requests were dutifully carried out, and the philosopher’s mummified haed actually was for many years put on public display at University College London.

But, as they say, all good things must come to an end. Eventually, the head became the object of student pranks and was removed from public view.

The college administrators who made this decision apparently did not share Bentham’s utilitarian ethics. Had they done so, they would have been forced to leave his head on public display, subject as it was to all manner of abuse. After all, Bentham’s mummified noggin provided far more happiness to far more people when it was available to the student pranksters than it ever did after it was locked away.

But there’s another development for which Bentham is famous. Oddly enough, it’s for an idea he had for a new type of prison that he called the Panopticon.

In Bentham’s words, the Panopticon was,

A building circular… The prisoners in their cells, occupying the circumference – The officers in the centre. By blinds and other contrivances, the Inspectors concealed… from the observation of the prisoners: hence the sentiment of a sort of omnipresence – The whole circuit reviewable with little, or…without any, change of place. Once station in the inspection part affording the most perfect view of every cell.

Admittedly, Bentham’s design was rather ingenious. But the idea of an all seeing eye in a guard tower, men who had the power to obverse all while they themselves remained unobservable, that’s just a bit creepy.

Thankfully, we don’t have to deal with this kind of surveillance in our everyday lives. Or do we?

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WIPFSTOCK_TemplateDoug Douma’s recently published biography of Gordon Clark titled The Presbyterian Philosopher has garnered a lot of positive attention.

I’ve just started reading it, so I’m not in a position to write a review. For reviews of the entire book, please see here for David Engelsma’s, here for Sean Gerety’s, and here for Tom Juodaitis’.

But having just read through the Introduction, I was very favorably impressed with Douma’s summary of Scripturalism, the name given to Clark’s philosophical system by John Robbins. Writes Douma,

The philosophy of Gordon Clark has been called Scripturalism because of his reliance on the truth of Scripture as his fundamental axiom or presupposition. Stated simply, his axiom is “The Bible is the Word of God.” Scripturalism teaches that the Bible is a revelation of truth from God, who Himself determines truth and is the source of all truth. In this theory, the prepositions of Scripture are true because they are given by inspiration of God, who cannot lie. For Clark, the Bible, the sixty-six books accepted by most Protestant churches, is a set of true propositions. All knowledge currently available to man are these propositions along with any additional propositions that can be logically deduced from them.”

Among the key terms in this paragraph is “axiom.” An axiom is an unproven first principle. All systems of thought, including Christianity, have unproven first principles. Both Clark and Robbins held that the axiom of Christianity is, “The Bible alone is the Word of God.”

Some Christians may be disturbed at that thought that one cannot prove the Bible is true. Somehow it doesn’t seem quite right to say this. It almost seems tantamount to casting doubt on the Scriptures and denying the entirety of the Christian faith.

I asked John Robbins about this once in an email, which (unfortunately!) I no longer have. But I recall quite well the gist of what he told me.

He explained that all thinking – this includes every philosophical system ever devised, secular or religious – must begin somewhere. That is to say, all systems of thought must have first principles, axioms, and that these axioms, because they are the starting point from which a system of thought is deduced, are by definition unproven and unprovable.

A moment’s reflection reveals why this is so. If one could prove an axiom, a first principle, then it would no longer be a first principle, whatever argument used to prove the original axiom would take over in this role.

Getting back to the axiom of Scripture, if we attempted, as some do, to prove that the Bible is the Word of God, the Bible would not be the foundation of our faith, but our own argument used to prove the inspiration of Scripture.

We would be lending more credence to our own ideas than to God’s revelation. And to do this would be impious, for there is nothing more sure than a word from God, who cannot lie.

In the end, the Christian’s belief in the inspiration 66 books of the Bible does not rest on any argument devised by man. But rather, as the Westminster Confession puts it,

[O]ur full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness, by and with the Word, in our hearts.

In other words, the Christian’s belief in the Bible is the product of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit who causes us to understand and agree with the propositions – a proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence – in the Bible.

This is not to say that the inspiration of the Bible cannot be defended. Clark wrote quite extensively in defense of the inspiration of Scripture. See God’s Hammer
for Clark’s devastating critique of various modernist theologians who sought to deny the doctrine of Scripture.

But what it does mean is that as Christians we do not have the burden of proving our first principles to unbelievers. Instead, we assume the truth of the Scriptures and use them to tear down the many high things in our day that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God.


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March MadnessAh, March madness, AKA man cave season. I had a boss once who always took off starting the Thursday of the first tournament game and spent his whole weekend binge watching college basketball. I’m guessing he probably wasn’t alone.

I’m not quite that hardcore, but I do love me a little college hoops too, especially when my Cincy Bearcats are playing well. Nice win tonight over K-State!

Of course, watching basketball has also manages to interfere with writing, which is why I getting a late start with this week’s TWIR, which is why this won’t get posted until Saturday. But hey, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

On a more philosophical note, it seems to me that March Madness isn’t limited to the basketball court, but can be found in any number of places having nothing at all to do with Mr. Naismith’s invention. Take for example…

Monetary Madness

There are few, if any, examples of mass derangement to rival the hoopla surrounding a meeting of the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC).

Eight times a year we’re treated to weeks of speculation about the FOMC’s upcoming decision, will they or will they not raise interest rates.

These meetings, as well as the Fed chairman’s semi-annual Humphrey-Hawkins testimony before Congress, are breathlessly reported on by the mainstream media.

To give you a sense of the absurdity of the coverage, back in the day when Alan Greenspan was in charge of the Fed, there were people who believed they could tell what would be done with interest rates based upon which hand “The Maestro” used to carry his briefcase.

We were treated to another such round of absurdity this past week as Janet Yellen, high priestess of the FOMC herself, sauntered forth from the bowels of Eccles Building to announce to the world her latest oracle: The economy’s awesome and we’re hiking interest rates.

All this was reported with the utmost seriousness by the mainstream financial press who dutifully played their roll as Fed echo chamber.

All, that is, except for one.

As Zero Hedge reports, Kathleen Hays of Bloomberg TV was perplexed at just how a supposedly data dependent Fed – the Fed is always talking about how their decisions on interest rates depend on economic data – could hike interest rates at a time when hard economic data is in a downward spiral.

The Bloomberg report’s pointed questions apparently both annoyed and frightened t he high priestess who never really answered the questions put to her.

And so it goes.

An even better question then why the Fed is choosing to raise interest rates into a deteriorating economy is why the Fed should have any say in interest rates at all.

Interest rates are the price of money, and as with the price of all other goods and services, interest rates ought to be set by the free market, not the monetary politburo called the FOMC.

There is no sound Biblical, constitutional, or economic argument for central banks, central bankers, or the fixing of interest rates by them.

But while sound reason based on Scripture leads to the rejection of central banking, the Marxists love it. In fact, the establishment of a central bank was one of the Ten Planks of the Communist Manifesto. There, Marx on Engels advocated for the, “Centralization of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.”

In the US, the central bank is called the Federal Reserve Bank, AKA “The Fed.”

That’s right. The button pushing boys and lever pulling girls in the Eccles building (that the Fed’s headquarters) are the dupes, slaves, and minions of one of history’s most destructive thinkers.

Actually, if you throw in the money printing madness inspired by one John Maynard Keynes, you can make that two of history’s most destructive thinkers.

Stop the monetary madness! End the Fed!

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CIA“Today, Tuesday 7 March 2017, WiiLeaks begins its new series of leaks on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Code-named ‘Vault 7’ by WikiLeaks, it is the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.” Thus begins the press release on the Wikileaks website.

In light of the “Vault 7” release, and in light of the many other revelations from WikiLeaks, Edward Snowden, and others, it seemed good to evaluate the covert activities of the US federal government in light of the Word of God.

This is a pressing issue, because more and more it is becoming obvious that we’re living Orwell’s 1984 in real time. What once was the stuff of dystopian fiction is now our day to day experience. According to the Vault 7 release,

  • “Weeping Angel” a hack developed by the CIA and the UK’s MI5/BTSS is targeted at Samsung Smart TVs, placing “the target TV in a ‘Fake-Off’ mode” while recording conversations in the room.
  • The CIA can hack your Android or Apple smart phone. According to WikiLeaks, “Infected phones can be instructed to send the CIA the user’s geolocation, audio and text communications as well as covertly activate the phone’s camera and microphone.”
  • The CIA can make their hacks appear as the work of foreign intelligence agencies.
  • The CIA has hoarded, rather than disclosing, knowledge of serious vulnerabilities to US-based tech manufacturers as was agreed upon in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations.
  • “The CIA also runs a very substantial effort to infect and control Microsoft Windows users with its malware.
  • The U.S. consulate in Frankfurt Germany is a covert CIA hacker base.

For my part, none of this seems terribly surprising. There long have been rumors that the CIA and other government agencies had capabilities of this sort. But now we have reliable confirmation of it.

But Government spying doesn’t end here. For example, in 2013 Glenn Greenwald penned an article that appeared in the Guardian, in which it was revealed that the US government is capturing “every telephone conversation Americans have with one another on US soil, with or without a search warrant.”

In that same article, Greenwald quoted a 2010 Washington Post piece stating, “Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency [NSA] intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications.”

Greenwald also quotes former NSA official William Binney to the effect that the US government has “assembled on the order of 20 trillion transactions about US citizens with other US citizens” and that “the data that’s being assembled is about everybody. And from that data, then they can target anyone they want.”

Ah, the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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Obama_This is going to hurtI know. I know. I’m late with my Week In Review. I could tell you the dog ate my homework, but I don’t think that that would fly.

Actually, I blame it on the IRS.

You see, as is the case with most folks who work in finance and accounting, during the first quarter of every year I get monkey hammered at work all for the purpose of meeting some arbitrary government deadline. Oh well. At least the over time’s good money.

And not only am I late this week, but I’m also going be short owing to another government program, Daylight savings time. I have to admit I do like the late sunsets, but that whole spring forward thing? It just kills me.

So without further ado and so I can get to bed at a decent hour, let’s look at some of this week’s top stories.

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