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Still Alive

Posted: August 25, 2016 (4:21 PM) by CalvinDude

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The Purpose of the Previous Post

Posted: August 10, 2016 (3:14 PM) by CalvinDude
If you read my blog regularly (and let's face it, you don't), you can probably already guess the purpose of my previous blog post. Essentially, what I did was create a custom text tag for my blog that gets replaced by data from a database that will contain the Greek NT. Right now (as I write this) the database has an entire two verses. John 1:1 and John 1:2. But it will slowly be filled until the entire NT is in there.

Of course, that's what I did. I still haven't said the purpose for it though! It goes back to my previous thoughts about the need in America for there to be a good public domain translation of the Bible. I want to go ahead and try to fill that need by writing my own translation of the Bible with the expressed purpose of having it as a public domain translation, meaning that it would be free to use anywhere without worrying about copyrights or paying royalties to me, or some such.

Right now, the only English Bible that I am aware of that is in the public domain is just the KJV.

Of course, sharp people will note that I could still run afoul of the law if I use a Greek text here on my site that is not also in public domain as the basis for my translation, but that is why I'm using the Greek text compiled by the Perseus Project. Specifically, they are using the 1885 version of Westcott and Hort's The New Testament in the original Greek, which is already in public domain. While that is not the most up-to-date version, it is sufficient to provide my translation, and I will of course reference some more modern texts in the process.

Finally, as to the actual translation I will provide, I'm actually going to provide two translations (as well as my own commentary on this blog). The first translation will be a more formal word-for-word translation; the second will be a concept-for-concept translation. To use more technical terminology, the first is what we would call "formal equivalence" and the second is "functional equivalence" or "dynamic equivalence". I believe the functional equivalent translation would be easier to read, but due to the fact that functional equivalent translations require far more interpretation than just straightforward translation, I think it necessary to have the formal equivalence aspect too.

Of course, one might question just who I am that I think that I can give a translation of Scripture that's "better" than anything else out there. Well, to answer that: 1) I don't think it will be "better" than what's out there, which is already superb; rather, I'm providing this so the text can be used without copyright restrictions, not because I think the other translations are bad. And 2), I think anyone is capable of understanding the reasoning and arguments for why a specific translation and/or interpretation choice will be made, which is why I'm going to be doing this alongside a commentary. Anyone will be free to look at the Greek text, look at my reasoning for why I interpreted the text the way I did, and come to their own conclusions as to whether my translation is worthwhile or biased.

I know that I've mentioned before my desire to do this task, but now that I have some coding in place it actually has become feasible to do so. It will still be quite lengthy, because I'm not going to be doing it haphazardly. It will also take a bit of work, especially as my database grows with the Greek text that I still have to enter in manually. But it's only the Greek New Testament for now (if God blesses me so that I can actually get good at Hebrew, then I can add that too). While I don't have infinite time on my side, I will perhaps have enough to make this service worthwhile to others.

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Kent McDonald Rating: 0
I admire you for offering to undertake this enormous project. Even translations that use multiple translators take years to complete. I don't envy you. One word of caution, though. I'm sure you are quite aware of the dangers inherent in attempting this translation as a solo project. Although you are creating a translation rather than a paraphrase, criticism comes easily from the naysayers. The Living Bible (paraphrase) and The Message stand as living proof of where one can go wrong. Are you going to be seeking the counsel of Greek scholars to help you ensure against error?

Also, I noticed in your previous post that the English in your interlinear example is following English grammar rules rather than Greek grammar. My Nestles interlinear doesn't read as comfortably with regards to English grammar placement of words. Are you doing that intentionally, just to make it easier to read?

That is all I have for now. I will pray that God blesses your endeavor with clarity of thought, understanding, and determination to finish. :-)
Kent McDonald Rating: 0
BTW, is it your intention to create a Greek-English Interlinear in the process?
CalvinDude Rating: 0
Hello Kent,
Thanks for your kind words! While this is starting off as a solo project, I'm actually open to anyone who wishes to help, so long as they agree with the principal that the end result needs to be a public domain translation and no one is getting paid for anything. I imagine very few people will be interested in that, given the need for food, etc.

As for the English in the interlinear, thus far I have been using a more English grammar there, at least in regards to not translating words that aren't spoken in English. For example, I could just use "the" for the interlinear translation of "τόν" in the "πρός τόν θεόν" phrase of John 1:1, but since English doesn't say "with the God" it doesn't fit.

I've actually been torn on which way to do it. It would actually be easier to code it where I just do a strict word-for-word replacement. It did require a bit of finagling in the code to get it to display the way I have, and right now I'm not happy with it because the way I've got the code set up I can ignore words that are not translated in English grammar but I don't have a way to dynamically add in words that are added in English. (This is why the interlinear text currently says "In beginning" instead of "In the beginning" although in my first mock-up several months ago, which wasn't connected to any database, I had it display "In (the) beginning" there.)

Actually, I think I might just go ahead and let the interlinear be a one-for-one translation. Of course, even then I'm still picking which of the multitude of meanings is the "one" to be displayed. (But that's also why I added all the other meanings in a popup if you hover your mouse over the Greek word.) Still, I figure I could probably argue sufficiently clearly while doing the commentary portion to justify my wording choices. So I'll probably make that change when I'm able to do so.

Anyway, to answer some of your other questions:
Are you going to be seeking the counsel of Greek scholars to help you ensure against error?
I will certainly try to contact many of them. I'll also have the comments open so anyone who has any concerns would be able to comment (essentially, I'll be doing a verse or two at a time--really, actually more of a Greek sentence or two at a time rather than specific verses--and they'll begin as blog posts with the ability of anyone to log in and comment, just as they can now). Additionally, I have a few people in mind whom I would run the final translations by. I've also got several resources for Greek research, and of course will also be using the various translations that are available already out there. The nice thing is that the majority of Greek is not too controversial. Still, there will be times when I know that me working alone I could overlook something, and I intend to mitigate that as much as I can.

BTW, is it your intention to create a Greek-English Interlinear in the process?
It is not a primary goal, but it is basically going to happen naturally anyway, as I put the verses into my database. I'll still be picking the best definition that fits the context of the sentence as I think it would be a mistake to just have the interlinear be the first definition listed each time (especially since the definitions I'm loading in the database are not sorted by frequency of use). But my primary work will be in arguing for the various interpretations rather than working on getting the interlinear text perfect.

One final thing is that I'll be going through several drafts of this project, all done through my blog here. So certain wording might change over time on some passages. For the formally equivalent translation, there probably won't be much noticeable change since the Greek is fairly settled on that side. But in my functionally equivalent translation, there could be some variance as I try to find the specific English words that most closely match the Greek concepts in today's English. And one of the things I can foresee, especially in Paul's epistles, is the need to deviate from the normal verse structure in order to convey the concepts better. Paul, as I'm guessing you're already well aware, could write entire chapters in a single Greek sentence, and sometimes rearranging the sentence makes more sense in English, but that could make a verse appear after another verse that it currently appears before in our Bibles. So I'm actually thinking I might even post the functionally equivalent translation without any chapter or verse headings, while leaving them all in place for the formally equivalent translation.

But I'm also open to any and all suggestions :-)

So I'm About To Do Something...

Posted: August 9, 2016 (10:27 AM) by CalvinDude
Most people who code websites are professionals and do things like using test databases and things like that for their code, putting it all behind the scenes where it won't look messy.

Not me.

You'll get to see it in action. Of course, this may take a few days for me to actually do. For that matter, it may never get done. Who knows?

In any case, you can safely ignore the remainder of this (and also the previous to this portion too). It will make more sense later, unless I never finish it, in which case it will never make sense. Oh well. That's life for you.




Test 1: Default
John 1:1
    1.  
    2. Ἐν
    3. In 
    4. Prep.
    1.  
    2. ἀρχῇ
    3. beginning 
    4. N. Dat. Sg. F.
    1.  
    2. ἦν
    3. was 
    4. V. 3rd Sg. Imperf. Ind. Act.
    1.  
    2. the 
    3. Article Sg. Masc. Nom.
    1.  
    2. λόγος
    3. word 
    4. N. Sg. Masc. Nom.
    1.  
    2. ,
    3. ,
    4.  
    1.  
    2. καί
    3. and 
    4. Conj.
    1.  
    2. the 
    3. Article Sg. Masc. Nom.
    1.  
    2. λόγος
    3. word 
    4. N. Sg. Masc. Nom.
    1.  
    2. ἦν
    3. was 
    4. V. 3rd Sg. Imperf. Ind. Act.
    1.  
    2. πρός
    3. with 
    4. Prep.
    1.  
    2. τόν
    3.  —  
    4. Article Sg. Masc. Acc.
    1.  
    2. θεόν
    3. God 
    4. N. Sg. Masc. Acc.
    1.  
    2. ,
    3. ,
    4.  
    1.  
    2. καί
    3. and 
    4. Conj.
    1. 4
    2. θεός
    3. God 
    4. N. Sg. Masc. Nom.
    1. 3
    2. ἦν
    3. was 
    4. V. 3rd Sg. Imperf. Ind. Act.
    1. 1
    2. the 
    3. Article Sg. Masc. Nom.
    1. 2
    2. λόγος
    3. word 
    4. N. Sg. Masc. Nom.
    1.  
    2. .
    3. .
    4.  

Test 2: Gk
John 1:1
    1.  
    2. Ἐν
    3.   
    4.  
    1.  
    2. ἀρχῇ
    3.   
    4.  
    1.  
    2. ἦν
    3.   
    4.  
    1.  
    2.   
    3.  
    1.  
    2. λόγος
    3.   
    4.  
    1.  
    2. ,
    3.  
    4.  
    1.  
    2. καί
    3.   
    4.  
    1.  
    2.   
    3.  
    1.  
    2. λόγος
    3.   
    4.  
    1.  
    2. ἦν
    3.   
    4.  
    1.  
    2. πρός
    3.   
    4.  
    1.  
    2. τόν
    3.   
    4.  
    1.  
    2. θεόν
    3.   
    4.  
    1.  
    2. ,
    3.  
    4.  
    1.  
    2. καί
    3.   
    4.  
    1.  
    2. θεός
    3.   
    4.  
    1.  
    2. ἦν
    3.   
    4.  
    1.  
    2.   
    3.  
    1.  
    2. λόγος
    3.   
    4.  
    1.  
    2. .
    3.  
    4.  

Test 3: Trans
John 1:1
    1.  
    2.  
    3. In 
    4.  
    1.  
    2.  
    3. beginning 
    4.  
    1.  
    2.  
    3. was 
    4.  
    1.  
    2.  
    3. the 
    4.  
    1.  
    2.  
    3. word 
    4.  
    1.  
    2.  
    3. ,
    4.  
    1.  
    2.  
    3. and 
    4.  
    1.  
    2.  
    3. the 
    4.  
    1.  
    2.  
    3. word 
    4.  
    1.  
    2.  
    3. was 
    4.  
    1.  
    2.  
    3. with 
    4.  
    1.  
    2.  
    3.  —  
    4.  
    1.  
    2.  
    3. God 
    4.  
    1.  
    2.  
    3. ,
    4.  
    1.  
    2.  
    3. and 
    4.  
    1.  
    2.  
    3. God 
    4.  
    1.  
    2.  
    3. was 
    4.  
    1.  
    2.  
    3. the 
    4.  
    1.  
    2.  
    3. word 
    4.  
    1.  
    2.  
    3. .
    4.  

Test 4: NoNum
John 1:1
    1.  
    2. Ἐν
    3. In 
    4. Prep.
    1.  
    2. ἀρχῇ
    3. beginning 
    4. N. Dat. Sg. F.
    1.  
    2. ἦν
    3. was 
    4. V. 3rd Sg. Imperf. Ind. Act.
    1.  
    2. the 
    3. Article Sg. Masc. Nom.
    1.  
    2. λόγος
    3. word 
    4. N. Sg. Masc. Nom.
    1.  
    2. ,
    3. ,
    4.  
    1.  
    2. καί
    3. and 
    4. Conj.
    1.  
    2. the 
    3. Article Sg. Masc. Nom.
    1.  
    2. λόγος
    3. word 
    4. N. Sg. Masc. Nom.
    1.  
    2. ἦν
    3. was 
    4. V. 3rd Sg. Imperf. Ind. Act.
    1.  
    2. πρός
    3. with 
    4. Prep.
    1.  
    2. τόν
    3.  —  
    4. Article Sg. Masc. Acc.
    1.  
    2. θεόν
    3. God 
    4. N. Sg. Masc. Acc.
    1.  
    2. ,
    3. ,
    4.  
    1.  
    2. καί
    3. and 
    4. Conj.
    1.  
    2. θεός
    3. God 
    4. N. Sg. Masc. Nom.
    1.  
    2. ἦν
    3. was 
    4. V. 3rd Sg. Imperf. Ind. Act.
    1.  
    2. the 
    3. Article Sg. Masc. Nom.
    1.  
    2. λόγος
    3. word 
    4. N. Sg. Masc. Nom.
    1.  
    2. .
    3. .
    4.  

Test 5: Multi
John 1:1
    1.  
    2. Ἐν
    3. In 
    4. Prep.
    1.  
    2. ἀρχῇ
    3. beginning 
    4. N. Dat. Sg. F.
    1.  
    2. ἦν
    3. was 
    4. V. 3rd Sg. Imperf. Ind. Act.
    1.  
    2. the 
    3. Article Sg. Masc. Nom.
    1.  
    2. λόγος
    3. word 
    4. N. Sg. Masc. Nom.
    1.  
    2. ,
    3. ,
    4.  
    1.  
    2. καί
    3. and 
    4. Conj.
    1.  
    2. the 
    3. Article Sg. Masc. Nom.
    1.  
    2. λόγος
    3. word 
    4. N. Sg. Masc. Nom.
    1.  
    2. ἦν
    3. was 
    4. V. 3rd Sg. Imperf. Ind. Act.
    1.  
    2. πρός
    3. with 
    4. Prep.
    1.  
    2. τόν
    3.  —  
    4. Article Sg. Masc. Acc.
    1.  
    2. θεόν
    3. God 
    4. N. Sg. Masc. Acc.
    1.  
    2. ,
    3. ,
    4.  
    1.  
    2. καί
    3. and 
    4. Conj.
    1. 4
    2. θεός
    3. God 
    4. N. Sg. Masc. Nom.
    1. 3
    2. ἦν
    3. was 
    4. V. 3rd Sg. Imperf. Ind. Act.
    1. 1
    2. the 
    3. Article Sg. Masc. Nom.
    1. 2
    2. λόγος
    3. word 
    4. N. Sg. Masc. Nom.
    1.  
    2. .
    3. .
    4.  

John 1:2
    1.  
    2. Οὗτος
    3. He 
    4. Adj. Sg. Masc. Nom.
    1.  
    2. ἦν
    3. was 
    4. V. 3rd Sg. Imperf. Ind. Act.
    1.  
    2. ἐν
    3. in 
    4. Prep.
    1.  
    2. ἀρχῇ
    3. beginning 
    4. N. Dat. Sg. F.
    1.  
    2. πρός
    3. with 
    4. Prep.
    1.  
    2. τόν
    3.  —  
    4. Article Sg. Masc. Acc.
    1.  
    2. θεόν
    3. God 
    4. N. Sg. Masc. Acc.
    1.  
    2. .
    3. .
    4.  




That should do it. For now. :-P

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Sparking Creativity

Posted: August 5, 2016 (9:34 AM) by CalvinDude
For a while now, I've been feeling a dearth of creativity. But today, it's beginning to come back. Part of it is because I've begun to listen to awesome music again. And by awesome music, I mean, "Music composed by Hans Zimmer." Because those are identical terms.

#JustSayin

In any case, I know that my creativity is bound up in music, even though I don't think that music is my best skill. I think I'm alright with composition, but it's definitely more of a hobby for me. Still, nothing moves me more internally than music does.

I wish that churches would get back to making good music instead of the crappy 7-11 songs that run rampant. Perhaps some of it is because so many churches have so few people of any talent and you have to make due with what you've got. But I think it extends beyond that. It's part of the culture too. Pop songs lack the diversity and skill of classical music.

But that's not to say that pop songs are all bad. In fact, sometimes three chords are all you need for music. Still, there is a vast difference between the majority (say 75%) of pop songs and 99% of Christian music. That difference is quality. Christian music just lacks it.

Anyway, enough complaining. If I wrote more Christian songs, I'd have to put myself in the 99% bracket too. In fact, the only song I ever did in my band that I actually think was better than just average was Color TV. Hard to believe that was recorded almost 20 years ago now...

Man, I'm getting old too.

And now this post is sufficiently rambly enough to be worth posting. So take that, universe.

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Discernment and Gotcha

Posted: August 2, 2016 (7:53 AM) by CalvinDude
I think discernment blogs have pretty much no discernment whatsoever. I've noticed the trend for quite a while, but David Wood just posted a video on Pulpit and Pen's attack on Nabeel Qureshi which illustrates the problem quite nicely. Feel free to watch that video. It's only 40 minutes long. (On the plus side, David Wood is good at keeping my attention for 40 minutes, so there is that.)

A few months ago, some discernment bloggers were attacking Jeff Durbin (if I recall correctly--and really, I didn't care much about getting into it at the time so some of the details could be a little off here) because he dared to meet with a group of Christians over some beers during a church conference. The horror! The horror!

Be that as it may, it appears that discernment bloggers think they are doing the church a service by exposing sins. But it appears to me that discernment bloggers, by and large, are nothing more than gossip-mongers who scour the internet looking for the slightest gnat while swallowing their own camel-sized bile. "I'm going to show my Christian love by pointing out that the adjective that you used in your fifty-seventh sentence has an esoteric twelfth meaning in the dictionary that Joseph Smith once used! SHAME ON YOU FOR POLLUTING CHRIST WITH YOUR HEATHEN ASSOCIATIONS!"

I don't know anymore. I think discernment blogs might just be part of the symptom as to why we're ending up with Trump or Clinton. End it now, Lord. End it now.

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Room for God?

Posted: July 26, 2016 (9:45 AM) by CalvinDude
Yesterday, I watched a rather interesting Ted Talk called Thad Roberts – Visualizing Eleven Dimensions. Now, Ted Talks are by their very nature overly short, and thus as I watched the video I did not expect to have much provided in the way of “evidence” and figured it would be more of a “teaser video” to get me introduced to the subject. In that regard, I was not mistaken. But at the very end of the video, Thad Roberts advertised his website so I decided to look at what was there.

Of course, it didn’t take me too long to discover an article on the main page called Is there room for God in a quantized universe? You can click on that link to read the article, or I can spare you a bit of time. It is quite plain that Thad Roberts is an atheist. It is also quite plain that his idea of “proof” in this article is equivalent to his idea of “proof” in a Ted Talk—that is, you just make bare assertions.

How does Roberts “dispatch” theism? In the opening paragraph:
The supposed proofs for the existence of a theistic God (0ne that intentionally created the universe and has particular interest in humans) have been resoundingly defeated over the years. There simply is no proof, logical or otherwise, for the existence of such a God. The fact that the strongest arguments ever made in support of the existence of such a God are so trivially easy to see through and defeat at the very minimum strengthens the skeptics’ argument.
Yes, that’s his “argument.” The proofs for God “have been resoundingly defeated”…and yet, he does not defeat any of them. He claims that the strongest arguments for theism are “trivially easy to see through and defeat”, and it must be so since he doesn’t bother to a) identify a single theistic argument, nor b) actually defeat any said argument.

Having thus “dispatched” theism because…reasons, Roberts goes on to pontificate:
Faith in a theistic God has been more responsible for the dehumanization of humanity than any other historical crutch. It has given psychopaths, and power hungry individuals, a weapon by which they become able to control the masses and in effect get them to curtail their natural compassionate tendencies.
Yet it still remains the case that atheism in the 20th Century alone is responsible for more deaths than religious warfare in all other previous centuries combined. One need only look at Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and similar ilk to see that it is not faith in a theistic God that is responsible for slaughter.

But notice also that here Roberts repeats the classic error of treating all religions as if they are equal. It is not as if faith in a theistic God (as if there could be an atheistic God) is the same in Christianity as it is in Islam, etc. It is quite clear that Roberts is trying to single out Christianity, though, as he goes on to quote Saint Augustine and Martin Luther. You know, because every Christian is a Catholic or Lutheran…

But it’s even worse. While “quoting” Augustine and Luther, there isn’t any actual attribution to the quotes. First off, if you Google the Augustine quote, you’ll see that it was made famous because Richard Dawkins quoted it. Dawkins reported to have gotten it from The Closing of the Western Mind by Charles Freeman. But Freeman actually doesn’t source it.

Doing my own Google search, I found that St. Johnny.com had actually managed to track down where the quote came from. The actual quote from Augustine was (and this is a bit lengthy given that atheists have to cut all the context from Augustine’s quote to twist it):
I must now speak of a different kind of temptation, more dangerous than these because it is more complicated. For in addition to our bodily appetites, which make us long to gratify all our senses and our pleasures and lead to our ruin if we stay away from you by becoming their slaves, the mind is also subject to a certain propensity to use the sense of the body, not for self-indulgence of a physical kind, but for the satisfaction of its own inquisitiveness. This futile curiosity masquerades under the name of science and learning, and since it derives from our thirst for knowledge and sight is the principal sense by which knowledge is acquired, in the Scriptures it is called gratification of the eye. For although, correctly speaking, to see is the proper function of the eyes, we used the word of the other senses too, when we employ them to acquire knowledge. We do not say, ‘Hear how it glows’, ‘Smell how bright it is’, ‘Taste how it shines’ , or ‘Feel how it glitters’, because these are all things which we say that we see. Yet we not only say ‘see how it shines’ when we are speaking of something which only the eyes can perceive, but we also say ‘See how loud it is’, ‘See how it smells’, ‘See how it tastes’, and ‘See how hard it is’. So, as I said, sense-experience in general is called the lust of the eyes because, although the function of sight belongs primarily to the eyes, we apply it to the other organs of sense as well, by analogy, when they are used to discover any item of knowledge.

We can easily distinguish between the motives of pleasure and curiosity. When the senses demand pleasure, they look for objects of visual beauty, harmonious sounds, fragrant perfumes, and things that are pleasant to the taste or soft to the touch. But when their motive is curiosity, they may look for just the reverse of these things, simply to put it to the proof, not for the sake of an unpleasant experience, but from a relish for investigation and discovery. What pleasure can there be in the sight of a mangled corpse, which can only horrify? Yet people will flock to see one lying on the ground, simply for the sensation of sorrow and horror that it gives them. They are even afraid that it may bring them nightmares, as though it were something that they had been forced to look at while they were awake or something to which they had been attracted by rumours of its beauty. The same is true of the other senses, although it would be tedious to give further examples. It is to satisfy this unhealthy curiosity that freaks and prodigies are put on show in the theatre, and for the same reason men are led to investigate the secrets of nature, which are irrelevant to our lives, although such [knowledge] is of no value to them and they wish to gain it merely for the sake of knowing. It is curiosity, too, which causes men to turn to sorcery in the effort to obtain knowledge for the same perverted purpose. And it even invades our religion, for we put God to the test when we demand signs and wonders from him, not in the hope of salvation, but simply for the love of the experience.

In this immense forest, so full of snares and dangers, I have pared away many sins and thrust them from my heart, for you have given me the grace to do this, O God, my Saviour. But as long as my daily life is passed in the midst of the clamour raised by so many temptations of this sort, when can I presume to say that nothing of this kind can hold my attention or tempt me into idle speculation? It is true that the theaters no longer attract me; the study of astrology does not interest me; I have never dealt in necromancy; and I detest all sacrilegious rites.
Yes, that’s right, the “disease of curiosity” that Augustine is referring to is that which involves the occult and the theaters and the gawking at dead bodies. Or, you know, reality TV.

Of course, the other quote that Roberts provides (from Martin Luther) does no better under scrutiny. (I should also note that this same quote is found in Dawkins, just like the Augustine quote, so at this point all Roberts has really established is that he can steal from Dawkins.) The Luther quote is: “Reason should be destroyed in all Christians.”

Note once again that there is no source given for where that quote originated. That becomes important given that Luther’s Table Talk runs to FIFTY-FOUR VOLUMES by itself, and that doesn’t even count his other works. Table Talk, it should also be noted, was not written by Luther, but was compiled by his students based on what he said to them, which means that it contains an element of hearsay.

Nevertheless, supposing the quote (devoid of context and attribution as it is) happened to be accurate, there are several issues at play here. First, Medieval Scholasticism was at its heyday, and often times Greek philosophy was treated as equal, if not even superior, to Scripture. If one defines “reason” as that which belonged to that view of Scholasticism, then there is nothing wrong with someone objecting to “reason.” Secondly, and related to that, Luther spoke in German and wrote in Latin, and thus was not using the word “reason”—which is an English word. Given a simple sentence with no context, it is impossible to determine what definition of “reason” Luther was using, and to assume the American definition is to commit the error of anachronistically interpreting a text.

But more important than all of that, we have specific quotes from Luther that refute the view that he was opposed to all reason whatsoever. Instead, we have Luther saying before the Diet of Worms:
Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason - I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other - my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen. (emphasis added)
Yes, Luther appealed not just to Scripture but also to “plain reason” in explaining why he could not recant his views.

And that’s not all, for he wrote in The Bondage of the Will, “We should speak according to a definite rule, in sober and proper terms; for what is wanted in teaching is simplicity and logical correctness, not the high-flown figures of a rhetorical persuasive.” And, because I’m not like Dawkins or Roberts, I will provide the actual source: Luther, M., Packer, J. I., & Johnston, O. R. (1957). Martin Luther on the bondage of the will: A new translation of De servo arbitrio (1525) Martin Luther's reply to Erasmus of Rotterdam. Westwood, N.J.: Revell. (page 138).

So clearly, even if Luther at one point said that “Reason should be destroyed” and he actually meant exactly what we mean by "reason", he contradicted that view multiple times elsewhere, and a charitable reader would seek to understand what exactly was meant by the phrase instead of assuming contradiction.

On the other hand, since it’s quoted by Dawkins and by Roberts without attribution, I’m just going to say:
I made up the quote. -- Richard Dawkins[citation needed]
But let us continue with Roberts. Having dispatched theism with such aplomb and brilliant wisdom, he then asks:
Does this mean that our scientific knowledge leaves no room for any kind of God? If the eleven-dimensional map of quantum space theory is in fact an accurate map of physical reality, then is there any room left for God? Well, if we are talking about God in the theistic or deistic sense then the answer is a resounding no. Qst is a fully deterministic construction. It portrays a perfect fractal that continues into the infinities of increasing expanse and resolution. It leaves no room for a planner or organizer, in fact, it reveals that the structure of the universe is a result of the processes of emergent phenomena, which explicitly requires the absence of a central planner. It carries us beyond the outdated and flawed (may we say dangerous) notion of a theistic or deistic God but quantum space theory also ushers in a different notion of “God.”
Now, I’m not going to address this alternative view of God, which Roberts claims is the view of Einstein’s God. That may actually be the only thing he got right in this entire essay, as Einstein did not view God in a way that any Christian would acknowledge as accurate. But that’s beyond the scope of my critique here. Instead, I’m more concerned with the fact that Roberts’s own view is self-destructive and implodes.

Roberts claims that QST (Quantum Space Theory) is “a fully deterministic construction.” It should be noted that Roberts view of determinism is vastly different from any kind of theological determinism, because he claims it is the result of the shape of the universe being a fractal, and that everything within the universe ultimately “is a result of the process of emergent phenomena.” As Roberts says in Overview of qst: “[T]his approach explicitly reveals a Universe that is, on every level, deterministic.”

The problem with this form of determinism is that it completely strips away any validity that “reason” itself has. In point of fact, under this view, reason and irrationality are the same thing—just emergent behavior from the fractal. There is no reason (pun intended) to prefer “reason” to “irrationality” under that view. If both are just emergent behaviors, we have no basis by which to judge one as being better than the other (or, to use the words of Roberts, to say that one is “dangerous”). When Rogers behaves according to “reason” he is really behaving according to the fractal, just as much as the ISIS suicide bomber is behaving according to the fractal. There is no fundamental difference between their behaviors. It doesn’t matter what either of them do, because no one can alter the structure of the fractal.

This is why it is so ironic that Roberts claims (as he does in his QST overview): “Those working on this project are motivated by the potential this return to determinism has to put us in better touch with reality and heighten our humanity. The more we understand Nature’s infinitely cascading structure and its dynamics, the more we can come to grips with our ‘magnificent insignificance.’” How, precisely, does it “heighten our humanity” to make us slaves to geometry? This is just wishful thinking masquerading as wisdom.

So, I am saddened to say that while the original video actually worked in garnering my attention and making me think, “I wonder if something could be going for this topic”, Roberts’s poor handling of sources I am familiar with as well as his shoddy reasoning skills have left a sour taste in my mouth. I do not trust any of Roberts’s claims that he made in his video, now that I know what his “research” is like. And I do not trust any of his deductions because I have seen how flawed his thinking is. This does not mean that Roberts is wrong on everything, of course; merely that he is an untrustworthy source and my time is going to be better spent on other endeavors than trying to sift through the chaff to find a few nuggets of truth in his theories.

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A Call to Action

Posted: July 25, 2016 (9:41 AM) by CalvinDude
I know that I've been complaining a lot about the political landscape the past few days, but I've also been taking it to the Lord in prayer. And today, I think He prompted me to remember something regarding our leaders. It actually came from Milton Friedman:

The ending quote is: "It's nice to elect the right people, but that isn't the way you solve things. The way you solve things is by making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing."

We are going to have the "wrong people" elected this year, barring an absolute miracle. In a very real sense, though, we are getting the candidates we deserve as a whole. Because as a whole, we Americans are very superficial, non-critical thinkers, and, ultimately, we are all evil. Thus, we get the candidates that reflect that.

But that doesn't quite mean it's the end. Instead, we Christians can still band together to work to convert the population. If America turned en mass to Christ, then it wouldn't matter who's elected. Why? Because we would be making it politically profitable for whatever whacko gets elected to the office of President to do the right thing, rather than the wrong thing.

Both Trump and Hillary would want to be reelected, after all. Without public support, there is only so much damage they can do. You can see that in the fact that, as bad as Obama has been, he has not been able to enact all the things that he wanted to do.

That he enacted a lot of bad stuff is also true. Because we, the American people, are on the whole quite bad ourselves and he can do that stuff because we, the American people, let him.

But if we convert, if we come to Christ as a people, then--and only then--will evil be restrained. Even electing Ted Cruz to office would not fix the country's heart problems.

And so it's time for a call to action. I hope that everyone who reads this gets their conscience pricked and turn to follow Christ. But more than that, to also turn to your neighbor. Love them enough to evangelize to them. Let them experience Christ with you. Teach them Who He is, so that they too will begin to put pressure on the wrong people to do the right thing.

Perhaps, through all of that, even someone like Hillary or The Donald could be genuinely converted too. Can you imagine the impact that would have on the world, if whoever is elected becomes a genuine follower of Christ? Such is not beyond the reach of Christ.

Hold on to that fact, no matter how bleak the rest of the world looks. We have power. Not just collective political power; we have the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us use that power. Let us be on fire for Him. Let us change the world to make it politically profitable for our next president to do the right things in office.

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Cruz's Speech

Posted: July 21, 2016 (10:47 AM) by CalvinDude
The speech Cruz gave at the RNC last night was brilliant. The only thing more brilliant is the meltdown the RNC elite are going through right now. But I can sum it all up for you with these two quotes:
Cruz: "Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution."

Trump: "Ted Cruz...didn't honor the pledge [to support the Republican candidate]!"
Even Trump knows that Trump is not the candidate "you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution." This is a serious problem for all the Trumpkins out there. Why is it that they assume that Cruz's statement was not referring to their candidate?

The question kind of answers itself, don't it?

Just as bonus, the Trumpkins booing Cruz lead to the awesome optics of having the RNC boo the statement "God bless America." So you've got that going for you too.

The RNC--Some Disassembly Required.

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Kent McDonald Rating: 0
I have been voting Republican since the 1968 election, and now...there are no words to express what has become of the party. As we both know, no King or ruler rises to power or is taken down without the permission of the Almighty. He gave Israel a king because the grew restless and envious of other nations having Kings of great renown. I have been perplexed and concerned from time to time when Americans have elected some of the Presidents they have. But, this time we are faced with a choice between a woman known to be a serial liar, and supporter of abortion right up to the moment of birth. Then she chooses a VP candidate with Islamist associations in his past. This should have been no suprise since her close confidant Huma Abedin also has close Islamist associations. On the other hand the "selfie" generation has given us a candidate with a narcisism bordering on Kardashian proportions. So...God is apparently letting America have her way...a choice between a Socialist lite wannabe and a Fascist dictator wannabe. How far we have fallen from our founding. Just like you, I cannot vote for either candidate. In the past I thought God was letting us have crappy Presidents so we would wake up. But now I am figuring he is letting us have crappy presidents because that is what we have asked for. We are electing leaders that reflect the moral center of our nation. Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus. I really don't want to live here anymore.
CalvinDude Rating: 0
I agree. I think that if America is going to repent and return to Christ, then part of that process must be by the dismantling of the current political system we have. Ultimately, that's more than just getting rid of the two party system. Politics has replaced Christ for many, many people. In fact, I've made the argument to some of my friends for years now that politics trumps all other beliefs in America. Thus, liberals would vote for Bill Clinton when his anti-women tendencies, including credible accusations about rape--were demonstrable to everyone. And Conservatives voted for Mitt Romney despite the fact that Obamacare was based on Romneycare. Or, looking at California with Proposition 8, which won in a landslide despite the fact that the rest of the votes on the ballot were heavily for the liberal candidates who would immediately undo Proposition 8. In 2008, the people were far more Conservative there socially, yet still voting straight party line.

That, I believe, is what ultimately is dooming our political course. Party loyalty is a religious loyalty now, and people will vote for "their side" no matter what "their side" is actually doing. It trumps race, it trumps religion, it trumps ethics. We see it now on both sides of the aisle.

Perhaps Trump is extreme enough that Christian Conservatives will at least break free of this nonsense. But where does that leave the rest of the country? Not looking good, at any rate.

The RNC Banana Republic

Posted: July 19, 2016 (9:47 AM) by CalvinDude
Yesterday, the GOP proved they are, at root, fascists. I've never been so happy to call myself a former Republican, because that rotten cesspool needs to be drained, destroyed, and demolished forever.

For those not understanding what went on, a rules committee said that delegates would not be free to vote their consciences but would instead be bound. This rule was implemented via a voice vote instead of a roll call vote in the committee. But in order for it to actually take effect, it had to be voted on by every single delegate. Normally, this is just a simple voice vote. But, if the majority of delegates from seven states request a roll call vote, then a roll call vote must be made.

Nine states requested the roll call vote. Nine, you may notice, is larger than seven.

So, the first thing that happened was the secretary at the convention went into hiding. She had an armed guard protect her behind a curtain so she couldn't accept the properly formed petition.

When she finally did accept it, the chairman declared that three of the states had changed their minds, meaning that only six of the needed seven states remained. He was asked which states changed their minds. Shut up, he explained.

He then ordered a voice vote, which he declared the "ayes" won, avoiding the roll call completely. He later held a second voice call with the same manufactured result.

One bright side on this: all the delegates from Colorado walked out (as did Iowa). I'm proud of my state for that, at least.

Trump is the establishment candidate. Make no bones about it. The media and the establishment selected him so that Hillary would win. The banana republic is founded.

USA. You were good idea. For a while.

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Can It Change?

Posted: July 18, 2016 (2:33 PM) by CalvinDude
As I look at the world seemingly crumbling around us, I ask myself a simple question. Profound, but simple nonetheless. Can it change?

By that, I don't mean "can it become worse?" because obviously things can always get worse. That's the natural course of entropy. It takes no effort to get worse.

Instead, I'm asking whether or not the country, and indeed, world can be improved.

One thing that I think is important is to remember that the world already is vastly improved from what it would have been had there never been any Christianity. We have lost a lot of our understanding of how evil the world was during the reigns of empires like Rome, the Persian Empire, Babylonians, etc. The Ancient Near East was a brutal place--one that makes Game of Thrones seem like a Pollyanna universe. War crimes weren't even "a thing" when Rome ruled the world. Now, even the most brutal dictatorships on Earth at least hide what they are doing.

But we can extend it further. Temple prostitution was common throughout the ancient lands, from the temples set up for Baal and Moloch to the Celtic religions in what is now the United Kingdom. The Aztecs sacrificed humans by the thousands for their festivals. Life was cheap.

Today, directly due to the influence of Christianity, these behaviors are all held in check. Not completely removed, of course. But there is no serious student of history who would prefer Roman ethics to modern ethics, to give just one example.

So the world actually is a better place, because of Christianity, than it would have been. Yet, you have to admit...the world is still pretty crappy.

Thankfully, as a Christian, I know where the true source of change is. I also know that it is possible for a revival to happen. For a complete renewal. How probable that is, I don't know.

But I do know that God delights in snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. He loves frustrating the plans of the wicked and turning them on their head. So I can see Him do a mighty work here in our world. Perhaps today is the time of revival!

So, seize the day. Go forth and preach the Gospel boldly. The world sucks? Yes, I'm glad you recognize it! Now do the only thing that you can to actually make an impact.

ISIS won't give up if you don't preach Jesus. Abortion won't end if you keep silent about the Great I AM. The civil unrest going on won't change if we're not telling people about the One Who is the only Unifier.

Worst case scenario, no one listens and the world continues down the path of entropy. That's what it's going to do anyway. Best case scenario--even if not all believe, society still improves for everyone. The world is still a better place.

Can it change? Not only can it, but it will change. Unless we all decide to isolate ourselves and never preach the Name of Christ.

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