Friday, March 27, 2015

Do people still believe the Shroud of Turin is real?

Dear Rev. Know-it-all,

Is it true that there are still Neanderthals that believe the shroud of Turin is the real thing even after it has been clearly disproven by science?
Alba Leavnutin

Dear Alba,
I am sure that you are referring to the carbon dating tests that were done on a corner of the shroud in 1988. They dated the shroud to around 1300AD, exactly when the shroud appeared in France. Case closed. The thing’s an obvious fraud. 

I’m not so sure. The tests done on the shroud were amazingly badly done. They were supposed to take ten samples from all over the shroud. They took one sample from the most contaminated corner of the shroud, a corner that had been held repeatedly by dirty medieval hands over the course of centuries. The corner they took is clearly different in appearance from the rest of shroud, especially when photographed by instruments that are able to determine chemical composition by means of light waves. That corner is chemically different from the rest of the shroud. In fact, it seems to have been made of cotton and rewoven sometime in the Middle Ages or early renaissance. 

Dr. Ray Rogers, who thought the whole shroud thing was nonsense after the carbon dating tests, and was enraged at the Binford-Marino theory that the sampled area was a patch. He had some of the shroud threads from that exact area in his possession and set out to disprove the whole Binford-Marino theory. He ended up doing exactly the opposite. He discovered that the sample they tested had been a patch! His work confirmed by Dr. Villareal of Los Alamos labs in New Mexico. He and a team of nine scientists from Los Alamos examined the material from the area of the carbon 14 sampling. This is what they found in 2008.

“The age-dating process [in 1988] failed to recognize one of the first rules of analytical chemistry that any sample taken for characterization of an area or population must necessarily be representative of the whole. The part must be representative of the whole. Our analyses of the three thread samples taken from the Raes and C-14 sampling corner showed that this was not the case.”

Add to this the tremendous financial benefit that accrued to the English team and the British Museum, especially Dr. Michael Tite who supervised the tests, and the whole thing stinks like Limburger cheese.

Nor did he (Michael Tite, the project supervisor) shy from exploiting his laboratory's 'success' in its work on the Shroud in order to raise £1 million pounds to found the Edward Hall Chair in Archaeological Science, a post shortly after taken up by the British Museum's Dr. Michael Tite. This directly secured the laboratory's future." (Wilson, I., 2001, "Obituary: Professor Edward Hall, CBE, FBA," BSTS Newsletter, No. 54, November, p.59).

In other words, Dr. Michael Tite was able to raise one million pounds from anonymous businessmen for a job well done in debunking the shroud and with this money was able to provide a nice post for himself at the British Museum. (That’s $1,870,000 dollars in 1988 dollars when a million dollars was real money!) The whole thing stinks! 

Now the cherry on the cake! That one sample taken from a dirty mismatched corner of the shroud instead of ten pieces from all over the shroud was cut into four pieces and sent to carbon dating labs in Oxford, Z├╝rich and Tucson. The three labs all came up with different medieval dates that went from more recent to less recent as they moved down the sample. This was fairly odd. The conclusion of the “patch” theorists is that the sample had less contamination on one end and more on the other in a fairly consistent manner. 

In addition this testing was supposed to happen under the greatest secrecy until the results were all in. I happened to be in Albuquerque, not that far from Tucson, at a wedding that summer in 1988. At the rehearsal dinner when all the guests were happily liquored up, I struck up a conversation with a physicist from a rather prestigious local institution. I said something like, “Hey, how about that shroud test?” He suddenly got very solemn and shook his head, indicating by a few choice words and grunts that the results were in and they proved that the shroud was a medieval fake.  

In other words, I knew the test results a month in advance of the National Enquirer! I’m nobody! I don’t know science from a bowl of pudding. Still, I was in on one of the supposed greatest secrets of the era a month before the rest of the world. If that doesn’t convince you that the supposed tests were a bunch of stinking fish wrap, well, nothing will. Those tests were done contrary to scientific protocol on a dirty, probably repaired corner of the shroud, the fellows supervising the tests made a bundle on the bragging rights and I, a Midwestern rube, knew about the results well before they were announced.

If that’s your idea of science, perhaps your driving privileges should be revoked before you hurt yourself. People say that those who believe in the shroud are indulging in wishful thinking. The opposite is just as easy to maintain. Those who believe science has said anything that demystifies the shroud are indulging in wishful thinking themselves. They are more befuddled than Bigfoot believers. 

To be continued……..

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Thoughts on Prayer Breakfast - part 3

Continued from last week
Scroll down a few centuries to 1398 and we find Timur destroying the city of Delhi, but before the battle, Timur executed more than 100,000 captives from the city of Tulamba. A century later, Timur’s descendant, Babur, founded the Mogul dynasty that ruled most of India as a Muslim domain until 1862.
Certainly such wholesale slaughters are a thing of the past! Look again. In 1971 well after independence and the partition of India, West Pakistan tried to stamp out an independence movement in East Pakistan by initiating a crackdown on Bangladesh’s aspirations for independence. Pakistani military and supporting militias killed as many as 3,000,000 people and raped as many as 400,000 Bangladeshi women. One million fled to India. This is admittedly political violence, but can you conceive of a current western army raping 400,000 women?
These are certainly not isolated incidents. Just three months before this writing, in November 2014, Jihadists killed around 5,000 people in Syria, Africa and elsewhere, according to best estimates. THAT’S FIVE THOUSAND (5,000) IN ONE MONTH.  ONE MONTH!!! A good rule of thumb is that Muslim armies and individuals kill 170 people a day in obedience to what they claim is the command of God. There are about 25 wars currently raging; 21 involve Muslims. These things are all easily verifiable. Look it up. Let’s look at the score.
There has been only one Islamic war against the rest of the world. It has lasted 1,400 years. In the 1,400 years of continuous Jihad 80 million Hindus, 60 million Christians, 10 million Buddhists and 120 million Africans have perished for a grand Islamic total of 270 million.
In the Crusades 1096 - 1272, perhaps 3 million died. That’s it,  3,000,000 in 2,000 years. These are the only wars waged by Christians as religious wars against non-Christians. The other wars of Christianity have been mostly directed against fellow Christians and have been largely political.  In the peasants’ revolt in reformation Germany approximately 150,000.  In the Thirty Years war between German Protestants and German Catholics, maybe 6 million died. The French wars of religion killed just short of 3 million. In the English Puritan war against fellow Protestant and the Catholics of Ireland (1642–1651) about 700,000 died and let’s throw in the witch burnings for good measure (about 50,000 in the 1600’s) and the ever popular Spanish Inquisition which comes in at a disappointing 3,000 in the four centuries of its existence between 1478 and 1834. Incidentally the Spanish Inquisition burned almost no witches. They mostly thought it was nonsense. (I have not included the Indigenous American Holocaust in the total. It is impossible to sort out the horrific death toll, but the vast majority of it was due to disease brought by European contact with indigenous Americans who had no resistance to European disease. It can be argued that, in most cases, in Latin America, Catholic missionaries struggled to save the indigenous populations from economic and political oppression. The same cannot be said of English speaking America. So the death toll of all Christian religious wars whether waged against non-Christians or fellow Christians comes to a grand total of 12,953,000.
So, by the numbers it seems that Islam is 20 times more violent than Christianity.  I am not trying to say that we Christians, having the lower score have won as if in a horrific game of golf. I am horrified that almost 13 million people have been killed to defend a religion that had no armies and fought no wars for its first four centuries. These numbers horrify me because I am a Christian and I deplore unnecessary violence.  The Gospel of Christ was spread very successfully by an evangelism that involved preaching, teaching, exorcisms and charismatic healings. Violence was abhorrent to the first followers of Jesus and was never part of the first spreading of the Gospel. It was most certainly NOT abhorrent to the first followers of Mohammed. Religiously motivated violence seems integral to the development of Islam. Muhammad had about 100 followers until he took up the sword in Medina to spread his new faith.
I resent being told that Christianity is as violent as Islam. It just isn’t true. Muhammad was a conqueror. Jesus was a carpenter. I suspect that non-Muslim apologists for Islam say what they wish were true, as if saying it made it so. When will we stop kidding ourselves?
Rev. Know-it-all
P.S. As to the general horribleness of the human species I refer you to:  “Rev. Know-it-all “Isn't religion the reason for war?”
Next week: a handy guide to Christian wars of religion

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Thoughts on the National Prayer Breakfast - part 2

Continued from last week...
“Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Moloch, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.”
What was so bad about Moloch that God commands in the Old Testament that his worshippers should be obliterated from the face of the earth? Simple, Moloch demanded child sacrifice. The murder of children seems to infuriate God. Just ask the Germans who after the horrors of the 20th century, no longer seem able to reproduce. (Total Fertility Rate in Germany: 1.4) It is also striking to see that Jesus is infuriated in the New Testament by unkindness to children. 
“And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, ‘Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’” (Mark 10: 13-14)
The God of the Old Testament didn’t tell the Israelites to slaughter people because they weren’t the right religion. They were slaughtered for their “abominations,” among which was child sacrifice.  There is no general command to spread the religion of Israel by the sword.
There is no command in the New Testament to spread the faith by means of the sword. I have told you about the idea of abrogation in the Quran that the later more warlike verses written in Medina cancel out the earlier more merciful verses written in Mecca. Christianity also has a kind of “abrogation.” It is the opposite of Quranic abrogation. Jesus ends the Old Testament practice of stoning, of revenge, of divorce and of the ban. These things were permitted because of the “…hardness of your hearts” (Matt.19:8), but no longer were they to be allowed. In the New Testament violence gives way to mercy.
The president talks about the Inquisition and the Crusades. Has he really studied them, or is he just making the same assumptions that most post TV thinkers make? I have written extensively about the Inquisition, claiming it was in fact a lifesaving committee! I don’t want to go into it all again. You can find what I’ve said by doing a web search for “Rev. Know it all - Is the History Channel correct about the evil Spanish ...”  and  “Rev. Know-it-all - How was the Spanish Inquisition a real life saver?” As for the Crusades, I refer you to an interesting YouTube presentation.  Do a web search by typing in “Bill Warner, PhD: Jihad vs. Crusades YouTube”. You will be amazed. The Crusades lasted for about 200 years causing perhaps 20 or 30 major offensive battles fought by crusaders.
Remember, the Crusades were defensive wars fought against an aggressor who had been waging war on classical European civilization for hundreds of years. Remember too, that Egypt, Turkey, Syria, the Holy Land, Lebanon, Libya and Tunisia were the heartland of Christian civilization and had been thoroughly Christian for around 400 years, much longer than the United Stated has even been a nation. They were invaded by foreign aggressors from the Arabian Peninsula who took away their most basic freedom, that of religion.
The Crusades were wars waged when the threat of foreign invasion was at Europe’s doorstep and then they were waged only at the request of those about to be swallowed by a foreign invader.  The act that precipitated the Crusades was the destruction of all the Christian places of worship in the Holy Land and the persecution of the Christian population by Hakim, the Fatimid Caliph of Egypt in 1009. Things improved slightly for the Christians of Jerusalem until the Muslim Seljuk Turks conquered the city and forbad all pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  The First Crusade in 1095 was the response to invasion and subsequent religious persecution.
The armies of Islam are still waging war on Christians 1400 years later. In that period jihadists have waged at least 548 major offensive battles just against classical Mediterranean and European Christian society, with untold millions killed and at least one million Christians taken as slaves to be sold in the Muslim world. This is a practice that continues among Muslims in the Middle East and Africa to this day. Captured Christian girls as young as four are sold by the current Islamic Caliphate  (ISIS) to buyers from all over the Muslim world and it was possible until recently to buy a captured Christian boy from southern Sudan for as little as $50.  (Slavery Haunts Sudan CBS News 1/25/1999)
This sorry history does not include the jihadist battles fought in the rest of the world. Take India for instance, a land where there has been a Christian presence in coexistence with Hinduism since the time of Christ.  Muhammad bin Qasim brought the armies of Islam to India in 712 CE, demolishing temples while slaughtering and enslaving masses of people. Despite this, his superior, Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf urged him to be still harsher. “Henceforth grant pardon to no one of the enemy and spare none of them, or else all will consider you a weak-minded man.” Al Hajjaj commanded that men be killed, and that children be imprisoned and retained as hostages. Qasim obeyed orders and went on to massacre perhaps 16,000 of the defending forces of the town of Brahminabad.
…to be continued

Friday, February 20, 2015

Thoughts on the President's speech at the National Prayer Breakfast

A very sincere warning: Some will find this offensive and Islamophobic. Facts are not phobic. Facts fear nothing. They simply are. If you find this offensive, I implore you, refute it. If you think it untrue, research it. I would be happy to be wrong about these things.

I had a friend named Alex von Doernberg. I was twice a guest in his home. He enjoyed speaking English with American and British visitors to his castle, Burg Herzberg. He was the descendant of Junker Hans von Doernberg, the man who took charge of our town in Germany after a shooting war between two bishops in 1465. The 20th century Von Doernberg, my friend died in 1983. He had lived a long life as a Hessian nobleman, a hereditary baron under the Kaiser, then he had been part of the Weimar government after the first world war where he learned his craft as a German jurist, diplomat and, after joining the SS, as Head of Protocol Department of the Foreign Office from 1938 to 1945. His English was perfect and he put it to good use as Von Ribbentrop’s adjutant in London. He became a member of the SS in order to continue at his post in the German diplomatic corps. He testified at the Nuremberg trials for the prosecution and the war was a distant memory by the time I met him. I got to know him because he always liked to talk to Americans.

He had served at the German embassy in Washington DC in 1926. Von Doernberg with his splendid English helped make British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain more pliable during the negotiations over the Munich Agreement. In August 1939, he accompanied Ribbentrop to Moscow to sign the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. Convincing Chamberlain that German intentions were good and reasonable was the work of my friend, Alexander von Doernberg. The refusal to see past the sweet words and urbanity of my friend convinced the world that Hitler had nothing but the best of intentions. People like that surly, difficult, unattractive Winston Churchill would have none of it. Regarding the Munich Agreement, Churchill told the English Parliament, “England has been offered a choice between war and shame. She has chosen shame, and will get war.”

Chamberlain’s good intentions paved the way for the next big accomplishment of my friend the baron. In August 1939, he accompanied Ribbentrop to Moscow to sign the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact by which Stalin and Hitler carved up Europe and untold millions were consigned to violent deaths. Our world was devastated by the Nazi horror of the last century, followed by the tyranny of Marxism. The death toll of these two anti-Christian movements was somewhere around 300 million. 

My friend, the Baron von Doernberg was a delightful man; polished, polite and well educated. I was glad to be counted as his friend and to have been his guest I imagine that Neville Chamberlain was just as delightful. Churchill was a disagreeable, ugly, little man who wore as little clothing as possible and smoked a big stinking cigar. Definitely the Baron von Doernberg was the nicer fellow. Nonetheless he was one of the handful of men at the center of the storm that swept away Europe and the culture of the West. For the sake of niceness, Chamberlain, von Ribbentrop and von Doernberg had hands that dripped with the blood millions. The moral of the story is, as I have heard from a great American philosopher, “Better a Churchill than a Chamberlain.”

Dear Rev. Know-it-all,

I have just read President Obama’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, the speech criticized by so many non-believing Christians. To my mind it is perhaps the most moving and meaningful speech since Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream…”  It is a true call to what faith in God is about, no matter our religion or lack of it. It is a call to live up to the promise of our country. This speech has made me an Obama fan and, hopefully, a more humble believer in our loving God.

Hiram “Hi” Horst

Dear Hiram,

Yes it was quite a speech. The President reminded us that we have been just as violent as Muslims. Allow me to quote his text: 

“We see sectarian war in Syria, the murder of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, religious war in the Central African Republic…. Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

Herein I think we see some assumptions. Unspeakable things have admittedly been done by Christians for revenge, for profit and for a host of ungodly reasons, but have any of these things ever been done at the behest of Jesus of Nazareth? 

The 4th crusade in which the Venetians got the Franks et al. to divert their expedition to the Holy Land in order to conquer the Byzantine-Roman capital, Constantinople in 1202 was certainly shameful and denounced by the pope in Rome as such. The attack was, in part, revenge for the Massacre of the Latins in which the citizens of Constantinople killed as many as 50,000 western Christians in 1182 (look it up.) 

Was this done in the name of Christ who said, “Turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39) and “Love your enemies; pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44)? If you listen to the Prince of Peace, Jesus of Nazareth, you don’t take revenge, though you may possibly defend the weak. 

On the other hand, regarding religiously inspired violence, Muhammad, the prophet of Islam said, or Allah said through him in the Quran, “…slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush.” Quran 9:5

If you are listening to Jesus of Nazareth then aggression and violence are forbidden to you.  Perhaps you have read some verses that seem to favor non-Muslims in the Quran. To understand them in their context you need to know about “abrogation.” This Islamic doctrine holds that the later verses of the Quran, cancel out earlier verses that seem to contradict them. It is as if Allah broke the hard truths to us slowly. This particular verse, the verse of the sword, (Quran 9:5) abrogates around 120 verses of the Quran according to most Islamic theologians. Modern apologists for Islam claim that this verse calls only for internal, spiritual struggle. This is a very recent interpretation. Far more typical is the interpretation of Ismail Ibn Kathir (1300-1373) an influential Muslim theologian. “Do not wait until you find them. Rather, seek and besiege them in their areas and forts, gather intelligence about them in the various roads and fairways so that what is made wide looks ever smaller to them. This way, they will have no choice, but to die or embrace Islam.”  

Didn’t the God of the Bible order such things when He put certain nations under the ban? When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you- and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy (Deut 7:1-3).
Add to this the Amalekites and in all 8 specific groups were put under the ban; that is slated for obliteration. Why these specific peoples? There are a number of sins of which they were guilty. The one that is most striking to is the worship of Moloch, (sometimes called “Chemosh” or addressed by the title “Baal”)

"'Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.”

Continued next week………..

Friday, February 13, 2015

Don't we need abortion and contraception? -- part 2

Continued from last week, 

Letter to N. Dignant

In many ways, the United States is in the same boat as China. We worry constantly about how long the social security system can hold out. There are more old people and fewer young people working; more of us geezers on fixed incomes, fewer up and coming tax payers. There comes a point when the math has to kick in. The crisis is already upon us.

Pensions are less and less sustainable in government, school and union jobs in the United States. Young people with good educations increasing find only part time work for which the employer needn’t provide the benefits to which my generation was accustomed. When looking at population it isn’t really helpful to look at the total population. One needs to look at the total number of three-year-olds in order to do any financial planning. Right now schools across the country are standing empty because there aren’t children to fill them. Universities are terrified. In about 14 years today’s three-year-olds will be applying for college. There aren’t enough three-year-olds to go around, and who will pay the tuitions that support tenured professors? (Tenure is a Latin word for “not having had a new thought in 30 years.”) The universities are already being sustained by foreign exchange students who come to learn math and science while we Americans are doing gender studies and getting our doctorates in Moldavian golden age literature. I imagine that soon the foreign exchange students will be doing gender studies too. 
Young people with their doctorates in gender studies and Moldavian golden age literature are having a hard time finding work. Most of the young people I know are underemployed and glad to get a job that is somewhere just above minimum wage. This is because the world culture has entered the DEATH SPIRAL. Isn’t that a cheery thing to call it? The death spiral is really quite simple. Old folks like me don’t need much stuff. I have all the furniture I need and the plaid polyester leisure suit that was the height of fashion in the 70’s is still good enough for me. I don’t need stuff and am on a fixed income anyway. That means there are fewer jobs making the stuff I don’t need and that means there is less money to start a family and that means people have fewer children, so there are less consumers and still, fewer jobs, and that means less employment and that means less money to start a family and that means fewer consumers and that means fewer jobs and so on.

You see: the DEATH SPIRAL: fewer kids, less demand, fewer jobs, except of course in the gender study field. (Not.) “The average cost of raising a child born in 2013 up until age 18 for a middle-income family in the U.S. is approximately $245,340 (or $304,480, adjusted for projected inflation), according to the latest annual "Cost of Raising A Child" report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Aug. 18, 2014”   Who can afford kids on a minimum wage salary? There is a saying, “There is no unemployment on a farm.” There’s plenty of unemployment in cities, where, for some unknown reason, everyone is moving in the hope of finding jobs.  

It seems that the year 2050 — just 35 years away — is pivotal for urbanization and population decline. That’s when the demographic car really goes over the cliff when we become a planet of dependent old people living in large urban slums. You think we have a struggle for resources now? Just wait.  

Population doesn’t cause the struggle for resources. Population creates resources and in itself is a resource. Wars are the lust for power and for the ability to over consume. War wastes the world’s resources. Hunger doesn’t cause war, war causes hunger. War is caused by people wanting the stuff I have. War is theft on the grand scale. If the resources devoted to war could be used for the production of food and consumer goods we could probably sustain double the world’s current population. War kills exactly the age group that makes the chairs and milks the goats and plants the corn.

Soon we will be in the death spiral that is devouring Japan, China, Germany, Poland and about 20 other countries already. We weren’t generous enough to have large families. We limit our families by means of birth control. We kill children in record numbers by means of the crime of abortion and now we can’t have children. We can’t seem to muster up the will to put up with the inconvenience. It is estimated that at the current rate, the population of the world will reach 9 billion in 2050, the magic year, and then plummet to one billion in four hundred years and there is no reason to think that the decline will stop then, unless the world at some point changes its mind about the purpose of sex and the usefulness of children. 

The sweater of humanity seems to be unraveling fast and not many are noticing it. A curious side note; the depopulation of humanity, the unraveling of the sweater started at 4901 Searle Parkway in a little town called Skokie, Illinois. It is where the Searle Company first mass produced the little golden pill that has made it possible for the great bulk of humanity to spend their old ages in loneliness. Most appropriately the factory overlooks a cemetery and a school that is closing for lack of children to fill it. It also overlooks a Catholic church.
People complain regularly about how mean God is in the Bible. God is not mean; he is just a bit of a literalist. In the Bible pharaoh said, “Kill the children of the Israelites!”  God, taking pharaoh at his word sent a plague that killed the first born. “If you want dead children, then dead children it will be.” Thus saith the Lord. 

We told God we didn’t want a lot of children and now our churches our schools; and our homes, are empty save for a few grey heads. We wanted things not families and so be it! We killed our children, the weakest, the unborn to maintain our standard of living and now we will face the rationing of health care in our old age. We geezers are now the weakest and there are not enough children to help us in our old age. 

Do you think the strong will care for us, the new weakest any more than we cared for the children, the former weakest? No, I suspect that they will let us die rather than waste expensive health care on the old and useless. Besides, it will be better for us anyway, just as it was better for all those little babies who had no one to love them. Just as we mercifully and humanely ended unwanted pregnancies, I’m sure in the near future the few young and strong who remain will mercifully and humanely end unwanted old people, just as you Ms. Dignant have asked. 

“As you measure out so it will be measure to you.” (Luke 6:38)


Rev. Know-it-all