Reimagined and Revamped. Fighting the spread of nonsense often feels like a Sisyphean task. However, the joy is in making the information available, not the hope of conversion.

Literal and Innerant Word

Lee Strobel will not make it to my pages very often. His whole shtick is something to the effect of:

I used to be an atheist, and then I looked at the evidence and concluded God exists, and you should too!

Then in a series of money making books and videos he takes you through his evidence, generally consisting of arguments from incredulity from "scientists" from the Discovery Institute (even though I have only a few readers...i'm not linking there). Tiny Frog has done a pretty good job of taking apart his ridiculous "Case for Faith" in 5 different posts.

While looking up video debunkings of the same books from extant dodo (please see these, they are pretty well done for a shoestring), I found a Strobel video concerning I book I read. Here it is.

Basically, what happened is that some religious person read Ehrman's book and said something to the effect of: 'Oh my lord! You mean the bible is not the literal and inerrant word of God! People wrote it and modified it! My faith is crushed!' [hyperbole mine]

Lee then gives the standard GodBot review of the book: 'Nothing in here is controversial nor new and therefore your faith should not be affected'. He tried to make the claim that all the old texts are dust. Someone clearly hasn't even bothered to visit the Yale library that even has early syrian and coptic versions..We do in fact have some very old and very good condition manuscripts, that have not gone to dust. We have versions that pre-date 600AD. and we literally have many thousands of copies of various manuscripts. The differences between them had to come from somewhere! Certainly the original ones are dust, but that is the whole point of the book, there is no original bible.

What he totally fails to make any sort of statement on is the original complaint of his audience member. Tons of pastors, priests and parent across the country are literally brainwashing their kids with the idea that the bible is inerrant and literal. By doing this, they can pretend the Bible can be referred to as fact, because of course, God wrote it. So yeah, finding out that God makes spelling errors, doesn't know how to correctly translate his text from one language to the next and adds parts to it, should be pretty discomforting to people brought up this way. And this is an awful large portion of America, that would happily vote scary people into office.

Further, Lee totally ignores one of the biggest assertions of the book. He pretends that the big controversy was about the Trinity concept. Why didnt he mention anything about the fact that the "Let he without sin cast the first stone story" (John 8:3-11) didn't appear in any of the earliest and best manuscripts, you know, the ones that were closer chronologically to the initial writings? This is clearly an addition, albeit a fine story,

Lee also writes off that difference in manuscripts as a "few spelling errors". His audience member that wrote the email to him could not possibly have been satisfied by that answer. According to Ehrman and others, there are currently more differences between the various historical manuscripts of the bible than there are words in the bible itself. Um, thats a lot of spelling errors.

Ehrman discusses at length about how changes get into the various bibles, accidentally and intentionally. Intentional changes are a result of racism, misogyny and politics, but Ehrman really takes you back to the time. Prominent clergy had their own versions, versions they thought were best and had them copied and distributed. Politics became important while the religion of Christianity was evolving, the result is a version of the bible that 'won', through the political struggles of man, centuries after Jesus existed.

Strobel also tries to reaffirm the major tenets of the Trinity in his video. Once again completely ignoring the evolution of Christianity or any religion for that matter. Jesus didn't die and then all of a sudden Christianity existed. Nothing in any human culture behaves that way. The concept of one god had to permeate (i.e. the rise of judaism and islam) and then the idea of Jesus as God's son( or as God or whatever) had to permeate. Many of the differences and changes in the initial biblical manuscripts had to do with adaptation of the newer religion into the older pagan ones, or vice versa. Much like how when western medicine was brought to China, the doctors insisted in injecting vaccines and medicines into acupuncture points. A quick read of Erhmans other history of Christianity, Lost Christianities goes through this much better, than this book, or my very brief synopsis.

Instead of saying that the bible may be a good guide (something I don't really see, but whatever), but it is not inerrant and that you can still have your faith and belief in God, he simply ignores all this as if he didn't even read the book (LOL, either of them). Sadly, this is the same tact other critics have taken when evaluating Ehrmans book.

It is a great disservice to the humanity to keep perpetuating obvious falsehoods like this. General belief in God or gods is fine for the most part. Most people are not driven to genocide, rape or theft by it. However when making moral statements, isnt it better to subject it to humanity's interest rather than one of many possible sky daddies?

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Someone just sent this to me. This guy is brilliant (presuming he made the software). I happen to like video games. Mostly RPGs and puzzle types, not shooters. But this is pretty damn cool.

and this is what nintendo comes up with. LOL

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Medis: The Finale

I had truly intended to write a real report on my trials with the Medis 24/7. Sadly I have never really found time to do a good job of it. So I will just unload the data, finally, and discuss it a bit.

It is truly important to understand the concepts of Power and Energy, if you are going to understand this post and why the hype from Medis is so inaccurate. I realize that to the layman, power and energy are synonymous. But the reality is that these are two distinct quantities. Further a good understanding of energy density and power density will be important as will why these quantities will define a successful product.

The 'report' is located here. Its by far not the best job I have ever done, but at least its out of my head now. Feel free to use the comments to ask any questions or for clarification on any of this. I didn't just make it a blog post because its pretty long with a lot of pictures, and the blog format really isnt conducive to all the data and depictions.

I really wish that tech magazines and website that review products like this would actually test these devices before they yammer on about how good the device is only to misinform readers and have to rescind their nonsense later.

Yo, tech journalists, if you have any desire to be accurate, just gimme a ring!

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Debunking Mercury Caused Autism

Skeptico pointed me at this overview of a recent study about mercury causing autism. Many of us have already known that ethyl mercury in thimerisol had nothing to do with autism. There has been no data or proposed mechanism to justify that hypothesis. But this myth keeps getting promoted and is often accepted as true by popular culture.

People wasting their money on chelation, hyperbaric chamber therapy, and other nonsense 'treatments' are just delaying true understanding of the causes and treatments for Autism. Further, they are endangering their child with 'treatments' that have not been shown to have any effect, and worse, have not been vetted for possible side effects (although, I'll admit, sticking your kid in a hyperbaric chamber is probably not that dangerous unless it is operated wrong, think "The Bends" from scuba diving).

Further, some people are not vaccinating their kids, for religious reasons, or simply out of fear or ignorance, or inability to discern good science from bad. Vaccination, along with sanitation and clean water, are the most successful national health efforts ever to be accomplished in the history of mankind. While there is a 1 in a million chance of significant side effects from vaccines, the immensely reduced occurrence of deadly childhood diseases is, by far, worth it.

I have a one year old daughter. I can fully understand how frustrating and saddening it must be to find out your child is autistic (or has any disorder that lower mental or physical capacity). I understand the intense desire to do anything that might help your child not have to suffer. I am also not sure I would be able to let my reasoning remain stronger than my emotion in my efforts to relieve my child of suffering. But while my rational half is strong, I appeal to you to help put this myth to bed so we can focus our time and money toward finding the real cause.

So, to my ten or so readers, please read the whole article. Its very well written. Then please tell people you know to read it. Help put this stupid myth to rest.

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Finding Common Ground

As I have been blogging sporadically over the last two years I have come to really love reading people's thoughts on three main subjects. The first two are rather obvious for me, the first is skeptical thinking on all matters. For this there are a variety of interesting blogs such as Skeptico, infophilia, and moonflake . These blogs, along with many others I have not mentioned (just see the blog rolls at each of these, in particular Skeptico's as he has various critical thinking blogs categorized), are really great for examining a variety of subjects and they are less personal than other blogs I like to read like Berlzebub's.

My blog, while I certainly throw in a lot of personal stuff, is mostly about using actual raw data, rather than other people conclusions to get at a result. This is how I attack the Ancient Chinese Medicine myth, the education levels and political alignment of various states, and the validity of statements from companies that make technical products, like the Medis nonsense.

The New Thing
I have also started to participate in another endeavor. While I am quite comfortable in my atheism, and fully endorse all the work done by Dawkins, Harris, Hitchen's and PZ and many others, I am not confident that it is helping to unify our country. I know that they are right, and I do agree that if there was widespread realization of the nonsense of religion and the harm it actually provides our countries, we would be better off. However, in my lifetime, or even in my daughters lifetime, I doubt we will see our various countries growing out of their religions.

So I am offering my thoughts and insights to a new venue. Common Ground contains essays from people with various backgrounds, religious or otherwise. Each week will bring a new topic for essays. These are not blog entries with links and supporting data and so forth, but simply essays from peoples point of view.

I hope you will join me over there. Read posts from everyone, and perhaps even write your own. I think that only by understand where 'the other side' is coming from, and remembering that their entire life experiences have led them there, can we find places where we all can agree. I suspect there are far more places where we can all agree than we think.

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