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March 09, 2005

Rev Carberet Pics now Online

Writing about web page http://www.warwickrev.org

Some of my photos from the Caberet on Tuesday night are now avaliable in the Rev - Caberet gallery

Ad hominem Attacks

In replies to some of my posts ad hominem attacks have been made on me and Christians. This post is to serve a notice to those who make these sort of attacks. They are simply not welcome on this blog. If in future posts are made which contain ad hominem attacks the posts will be deleted and re-posted by me, with the ad hominem attacks removed. The rules are simple. This is my blog and I reserve the right to edit out ad hominem attacks. If you cannot come up with an intelligent response, then don’t post at all. Existing posts before this will stand.

March 08, 2005

Gnomes

Writing about web page http://hacks.mit.edu/Hacks/by_year/2003/gnomes/

with gnomes taking over the TV listings in the Boar, I though i'd better link this page, Gnomes galore in a *nix cluster

link


A Sad Time for Humanity in the Union

Writing about web page http:\\www.sunion.warwick.ac.uk

The students of the union you will note recently voted in Motion 4 in the Spring 2005 Referendum. “Abortion: The Right to Choose” enshrines the pro-choice position in the union, condemning pro-life organisations such as Life, replacing the unions previous “no-policy” policy. All in all, the union has voted to be pro-choice and not “neutral”. This severely upsets me because of what it means.

Some Humans are No Longer Humans

The pro-life position is that the unborn are full human beings and as such are worthy of the same protection that is applied to other human beings under the law, that is that the killing of an innocent human being is a serious wrong and should not be permitted. the student body, in voting for this motion has effectively decided that the unborn is not a human and therefore worthy of protection. They have decided to exalt the rite of the mother to choose and to decide for herself whether or not to have an abortion over the rite of her unborn to life. I feel that this is a sad day for human rights in the union.

that's my view

Rich Cowan

Notes

I am prepared to defend the humanity of the unborn in further posts, but have not done so in this article for 2 reasons, 1). it is primarily a comment on the referendum, and 2). to keep it short. If lots of people ask or challenge me to do so, I will in a follow-up article.


February 28, 2005

Humility

I’ve recently heard some good teaching on humility and I thought I’d share it.

There’s one thing that really gets in the way of the truth of humility. These are the misconceptions that people have about humility.

The first misconception is that humility is a quality that if you “know” you have it, or reflect on being humble, then you are not humble. However look at Paul in Acts 20:

Act 20:18–19 And when they came to him, he said to them: "You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews;

Paul here is being publicly reflective on his own humility. This misconception says that this would be false humility. If this is the case then in this section, then Paul must be mistaken. A big problem if we believe in the inspiration of scripture. This misconception is also frustrating; I operated under this misconception for along time. With this misconception, you can never experience or appreciate growth in this area, since as soon as we think we have grown, on this view; we are proud and not humble. How frustrating

The second misconception is that humility is self abasement i.e. putting ourselves down, thinking bad about ourselves (see how this links to the first misconception). Again using Paul as an example, does not abase himself when he talks about himself, with the exception of the “thorn in the flesh”. This is also in Colossians chapter 2 and Romans 12:16. Self Abasement is false humuility.
Humility is not demeaning your achievements. In the Old Testament the world translated as pride in the negative sense in a different sense is translated as excellence. We have “excellencies” which are only pride when regarded in the wrong way.

So, what is Humility?

Well, like many qualities it’s not really defined in the bible. We see it lived out by biblical characters instead. As Christians our model is Jesus Christ therefore we should look at Philippians 2:

Phi 2:5–11 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, (6) who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, (7) but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (8) And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (9) Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, (10) so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (11) and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus was God in all his glory, with all the privileges of deity, but he didn’t consider those privileges something to be held on to or grasped, but was willing to let them go, never ceasing to be god, but letting the privileges go, becoming a servant of man.

Jesus went from a very high station, relative to those he was serving, and assumed a low station, relative to those he was serving. Humility is whenever we take the lower station with respect to another person, and pride is whenever we take the higher station. Put another way, humility is when we put someone else in the centre of our world, and pride is when we put ourselves in the centre

Application

What are evidences of Pride?

Exalting yourself in the presence of others i.e. bragging
Criticizing other people i.e. putting them down
Thinking of our own needs first

Forgiveness

Seeking forgiveness is an example of humility
Forgiving someone restores them to the high status in your life. You remove yourself from the position of the judge.

How?

Praise other people – it raises them up and encourages them.
It is really easy to do this – not cheep flattery but sincere appreciation.
Humility begets humility
Humility has its most vital application in the area of relationships. See John 13

Joh 13:3–5 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, (4) rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. (5) Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

There is no profound humility without sacrifice. There is no profound love without profound humility.

Hope this is helpful

Comments/Questions are welcome

notes

  1. All bible quotations from the ESV

December 24, 2004

Eden Burning – The Hatchery

Writing about web page http://www.edenburning.co.uk

You'd have to be really old to remember this band, I don't, but they we're suggested to me by a friend who said they were kind of like Why?, whoose Happy CD is on this blog.

Anyway they've got a Best Of album out, which can be downloaded in mp3 format from the website. I'm listening right now and really enjoying it. Go on, try it, it's free and you might just enjoy it.

Rich Cowan


December 01, 2004

IONA pics finally up!

Writing about web page http://www.iona.uk.com

I've finally got round to uploading some pics from the fantastic IONA gig at London University Union. Roll on the DVD!!

November 04, 2004

Comments on Human Nature thoughts

Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view

Interesting Article.

Now let’s pick it apart shall we

Many religions teach the idea of a fall, the idea that humans were once perfect but through some reason or other now are imperfect. Religion, being pure and from God obviously should not be something which appeals to a side of humanity which only came into existence after the fall.
The bible teaches us that humans became "Security seekers" after the fall and before the fall, Adam walked in the sunshine with God without care.
Surely therefore if a religion is perfect and from God it should not appeal to the security seeking part of humanity in the way Islam and protestant Christianity do.

I see a problem here. Taking the second paragraph. If Adam walked with God without care in the garden, he was secure with God (though he may not have been consciously aware he was). After the fall he was not (He would die, something that would never occur before the fall) and needed the security of the previous relationship, as you say. Now follow this argument. The focus of any true religion must be the restoration of the original state of affairs. And guess what, this requires that all the wrong in the world be taken care of. This is what the cross is all about. The forgiveness of sins through the death of Jesus in our place.

Your arguments seem to fall apart around the third statement I have quoted. If a religion is from God, and therefore has the purpose of saving people and putting right what we mucked up, then it will surely appeal to our sense of security, because the end result will be a secure eternity with God.

I have a serious question to ask you. Why on earth should a religion not appeal to a sense of security? What is the reasoning for not appealing to an attribute of man whether it arose before or after the fall? Why should a religion or worldview or whatever you call it not give a sense of security. Why on earth not. You never give a good reason for this, apart from this assertion that we should not appeal to a “post-fall attribute” of man. This sounds very close to a Gnostic and other similar worldviews. If not why this apparent dislike for fallen man and his traits?

Further more, you seem to advocate views that are condemned in the bible. You seem to state that Catholics are actually justified by their works, a concept clearly condemned by the Apostle Paul, Jesus and James. If you are not actually saying this, could you please clarify what you actually mean (and therefore how Catholicism is different to protestant Christianity).

Your description of Islam is also, to my knowledge inaccurate, since to the best of my knowledge there is no security of salvation in Islam.

Think about it. How often in your life would you rather not having to make a decision if you knew that someone else was in an infallible position to make the decision for you. Wouldn't you just rather follow the person you knew was 100% right, I know I would. I would certainly rather this than be in a position where I would risk taking the wrong choice. This is why we like tools like calculators and computers.

Hehe. By the way, protestant Christians do follow a person who was 100% right. He’s called Jesus Christ if you weren’t sure. But he doesn’t make decision for us. Perhaps you’d care to glance at my review of “Decision Making and the Will of God” by Gary Friesen for an explanation of my view.

It seems that unlike so many other religions, Catholicism is not based on the human nature of the fall in providing some artificial security but rather on appealing to the real human nature, not the desire for security, but the desire to be in communion with God.

Neither is Christianity (note the switch, the Catholicism you are describing is so far from biblical that I cannot bring myself to call it Christian). Christianity is based on the actions of the Son of God, living and dieing on earth as a man, to bring about forgiveness by God.

Yes, that's right, Catholicism appeals to that bit in genesis "man walked in the evening sun with God" as Catholics believe that in the Eucharist they actually eat Christ's (who is God the son) flesh. They actually restore the communion and closeness they had with God before the fall.

Protestant Christians know that they will literally one day walk with God again. The security now is a mere reflection of the security and closeness to come.

It is precisely because the other religions and perspectives aim to fulfill the fallen element of human nature which we can see why they are ideologies of the fall.

Sorry, but you have completely failed to show this. You have offered no good reason why appealing to the fallen nature of man is bad. Your arguments seem to come so close to Gnotistic and similar thought.

Now to my reply. Man does indeed have a need for security. This comes from a deep seated remembrance of being with God. We find ourselves so lacking that initial relationship we had with God (the God shaped hole) that we desperately seek things to fulfill us. The seeking is not bad, but rather it is an indication that we are fallen and need God. The only way we will ever be secure is after this world has ended. This is what Jesus Christ came to accomplish, the way to God. Protestants feel a sense of security because they know that they will be with God. The security is an expectation of thing to come.
Sorry about the disconnected flow of this reply, but it is late.

Yours

Rich Cowan

P.S. could you possibly do a bit of experimenting with your themes? Your blog is difficult to read, and comments very difficult to read (white text on a grey background)


November 03, 2004

Holy, Holy

Writing about web page http://www.warwickrev.org

Here we go, Randomness

I must write about the coolness for Rev on Tues night. Nearly a year after hearing Basil Meade teaching Holy, Holy to the choir I finally get to learn it myself. Class

I will praise the Lord Jesus always, for his goodness and his mercy, every day

how cool is the opening

Randomness Over


Book Review – Decision Making and the Will of God

Title:
Rating:
5 out of 5 stars

As it’s that time of the year, when finalist scrabble around, trying to work out what to do next year. As a (possible) help during this time, I’d though that I’d post a review of this book, which I had found particularly helpful.

Are You a Christian? What do you understand God’s will to be? I’d be willing to bet that at least some of you think that God has a perfect will for your life that you are supposed to find out. A plan for you, which described all the major decisions of your life, your job, spouse and many other details. If this is so, you may be surprised to find that I (and this book) don’t agree with you on this.

The book starts by describing this view (termed the “traditional view”) that God has a plan for our lives and that we receive guidance through methods such as “open and closed doors”, “feeling led” and “the still, small, voice”. Once the view has been well explained, through the foil of a fictional seminar, the book continues to critique this view, explaining how it is based on a poor use and understanding of scriptures, and how some of the reasons given in support of the view do not apply. The author then presents an alternative to the “traditional method” called the “wisdom method”.

The “wisdom method” holds that God does not have an “individual will” for our lives, but rather that all of God’s will can be summed up within two categories, God’s sovereign will and God’s moral will. Basically God’s sovereign will is all the things that god decrees will happen. It is hidden (mostly) from us, and does not play an active part in our decision, although some of it is revealed in the bible. God’s moral will is the part that we must concern ourselves with in making decisions. It is fully revealed in the bible and our decisions must be made within it. We may use wisdom in applying god’s moral will to our lives, or we may be in an area not covered by god’s moral will. We must finally submit in advance to God’s sovereign will, being prepared for him to sovereignty intervene and redirect us through whatever means he wills (see James).

The book also examines the application of this viewpoint to many areas of life such as the decision about going into ministry or getting married. For this reason the sections of the book that actually apply to all people are considerably shorter than the whole book, so do not be out off by the large size. The book is also big because of the careful exegesis given to each of the relevant passages rather than a cursory evaluation.

Overall, this book is very useful, if you are seeking to understand how to follow God’s will for the rest of your life. If you read it you may just be surprised at the freedom we have in Christ to do what we desire.

Rich

P.S. if you want to borrow the book, or a set of CDs containing teaching based on the book, please ask me, I’d be happy to lend them out.


October 16, 2004

Darwin's Black Box

Title:
Rating:
5 out of 5 stars

I have just finished reading this book for the second time, so I though I would give my thoughts on this book as a biochemistry student.

I will assume that readers of this review are familiar with the concept of evolution.

In the book Michael Behe argues based on analogies with some mechanical systems (the mousetrap) that there are “Irreducibly complex” systems within organisms that demand an intelegent designer.

The “irreducible complexity” argument relies on there being biological systems that completely fail when one component is removed. A mechanical example of this given by Behe is a mouse trap (p42 fig 2–2) which will not function at all if one component is removed. Behe then describes various biochemical systems and pathways such as the vision event in rods in the eye, blood clotting, the cilia, the bacterial flagellum and intracellular transport (ask me if you need these explaining to you). He shows that each of these systems is nonfunctional if components are removed and in some cases are actually detrimental and dangerous to the organism in question when incomplete (e.g. unregulated blood clotting). The “irreducible complexity” of these systems argues for an “intelligent designer” that can place these systems in place complete. Behe also defends the “intelegent designer” concept from the argument that states that some organisms appear to have features that (according to those suggesting this) are not perfectly designed so (supposedly) refuting intelligent design.

The book is friendly and accessible to both laymen and scientists, each deriving his own from the book. The layman will become more educated about biochemical systems, and the scientist will find extensions of the argument into his own area of interest.

In conclusion: this book should be read, and read carefully. It will do you no good to casually read this and/or to vent your spleen on it because it challenges evolution. Read it carefully, analyzing the points made and you will find a well reasoned argument. It may or may not convince you, but no doubt you will better off for reading this book carefully, since carefully study of issues always improves your mind.

Notes.

I suggest that you treat reading this book like you would a science textbook or paper, read it carefully, going back over sections and making notes. This is no light book so the more effort spent on reading and understanding it the more usefulness you will derive from it.


October 15, 2004

Why? – Happy

Writing about web page http://www.wesleyowen.com/Merchandiser/catalog/Product.jhtml?PRODID=84071&CATID=108227

Title:
Rating:
5 out of 5 stars

The final (and only still avaliable) album from the british christian band Why? Formed at Bath uni in the early nineties Why? played an attractive folk based music, with a very changing line up, until slimming down to four members for this, their final album. Really worth a listen, especially at the current listed price of 79p, hold on let me repeat that 79p +p&p for a full 14 track album. Gets the full five stars on VFM alone, but also happens to be stocked full of quality songs, from songs on the atractiveness of the clergy (The Vicar) to clever songs about twins (Not enough Womb) that sound dodgy until you realise what they're really about. The album has been described as a mix of funk, folk and rock and that about sums it up.

Why? are sadly split up, so buy this record for 79p while you still can…

Links

FreeDB links

Happy
Look Back – 1998 Greatest Hits
Jig at a Why? Gig – 1996 Live Album
Pinnenstripensuitenwearenfoddergeburnenclippencloppen

Other Links

Why? Webpage – really old, not updated in a long time, I don't know how much longer it will be up


October 13, 2004

Random Musings on Stem Cells

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/film/3732462.stm

The death of Christopher Reeve has brought to the forefront of my mind the issue of stem cells and the permission/non-funding of embryonic stem cell research in the UK and the USA. Christopher Reeve believed that stem cells treatments, had they been available, might have been able to reverse his paralysis. I’m sure that his death will be used by the campaign to allow embryonic stem cell research as a clear example of a tragic case where stem cells could have greatly helped.

I agree with the US administrations position that embryonic stem cell research should not be funded by the state. Of course it is tragic that someone should be in such as state as Christopher Reeve was, but we should not allow our (right and appropriate) sense of outrage at someone dreadful injuries to overhaul our moral sense in determining whether a treatment should be researched or not. The need for a treatment is not enough. The treatment should also be morally acceptable. This is the issue with embryonic stem cells.

The production of embryonic stem cells requires an embryo. In most envisioned treatments this embryo would be a clone of the patient in order to avoid problems with tissue rejection. The moral problem that I see with this treatment (and feel free to comment on this article in your agreement or disagreement) is that it requires the destruction of an embryo in order to treat the individual. We would not allow the killing of a newborn simply to treat an adult with a medical problem. The whole argument for the embryonic stem cell research hinges on the assumption that the embryo is not a valuable human in the same way as a newborn is. This argument, you will not be surprised to know is the basis of the pro-choice position, because lets face it, if the unborn is not as human and therefore as deserving of protection as any other human, then the pro-choice position is correct, it’s all about the choice of the mother

Fortunately for us, the pro-choice position is not correct. This can be demonstrated by drawing analogies between the conditions of the unborn that cause people to say that it is not human and valuable and adults who show some of these same traits but are still regarded as valuable humans. These differences can be summarised by the acronym SLED.

  1. Size – It has been argued the unborn are not human and worthy of protection since they are smaller than other humans. This doesn’t wash, a 8 year old is not more of a human than a 2 year old because he is bigger, a 7 foot basketball player is not “more human” than a 5 foot 9 geek because he is bigger. The size argument completely fails
  2. Level of Development – The argument is that the unborn is less developed, then it is not human. Again the same logic shows us why this is not true. A 5 year old is more developed than a 2 year old, but that does not make the 5 year old more “human” than the 2 year old
  3. Environment – this one is just absurd. Where you are has not bearing on who you are (in a morally relevant sense). Note that this was the argument that supported dilation and extraction late term abortions. In this abortion the baby is delivered breach first until only the head remain in the mother. How is it that a difference in location of 6 inches is morally relevant in whether the act is an abortion of infanticide? This is why these abortions are now illegal in the USA.
  4. Degree of Dependency – The argument is that since the baby is dependant on the mother then it is less human than an independent individual. This is absurd. I am a type 1 diabetic. I am dependant on Insulin. Does this make me less human than my next-door neighbour? How about those with pacemakers, or that dependant on kidney dialysis machines or that dependant on systems like Christopher Reeve was. They are no less human than any other.

The unborn is different from other people in all these regards, but none of them are sufficient for it to be less human than any other individual. The conclusion is that the unborn is human and should be protected as any other human.

This links to embryonic stem cell research in the issue of destroying the embryo to obtain the stem cells. Since it can also be demonstrated by analogies that the embryo is not morally different from any other human, embryonic stem cell research should not be allowed from the same reasons as abortion, that it kills a valuable human being.

Plenty of alternatives exist such as adult stem cells or placental stem cells. There is not really the need to kill embryos to derive these cells.

Get in contact if you agree/disagree

Rich Cowan

Notes

  1. The majority of the arguments in this piece are adapted from material by Scott Klusendorf, including “Pro-Life 101”. See Stand to Reason for details
  2. I am aware of other conditions placed on humanness, like the requirement of consciousness placed by Peter Singer, however this can be argued against using the examples of people in comas. Also someone who thinks that a dog is more valuable than an infant or a person in a coma needs help in my opinion.

Book Review – Traitor General by Dan Abnett

Writing about web page http://www.blacklibrary.com/gauntsghosts

I recently finished this book, the latest in the series about Gaunt’s Ghosts. Well all I can say at the moment is it was somehow cool and disappointing at the same time. It was lacking the mega-apocalyptic battles involving thousands of men that I had enjoyed in the previous books, but at the same time, the slow corruption of the whole team was a joy to red of. If you know the series the identity of the general is somewhat poorly concealed and you will guess fairly early on who he is, One of the most interesting bits in the book for future books actually occurs at the beginning where Dan Baur and Commissar Hark are named as the Commanding Officer and Commissar of the regiment specifically. I wonder does this mean that we might get some stories about the regiment being lead by these two? Also I want to know what’s happening to Brin Milo now that he’s gone off with Saint Sabbat. Perhaps another book in the vein of Ghostmaker would be in order to get an update on all the little story threads that could do with being progressed.

Overall I’d rate the book fairly highly, though not as good as some of Abnett’s other material. The best part of the book for me is that I have an autographed hard back copy (obtained at Games Day 2004)

Links

Warhammer 40,00

Gaunt’s Ghosts

Dan Abnett