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Friday, October 24, 2008

Political Compass

I've put this site up before, but it's been a while. It has a quick test for you to determine whether you are socially/economically authoritarian/libertarian. I was solidly in the libertarian left. More libertarian than left though.

Linky goodness here.

Obama's Supporters

Is it weird that Obama's support among people not affiliated with religion looks so similar to McCain's support among fundamentalists?
What these graphs mean to me is that there is a certain type of people who have rejected the church. It's obvioulsy not the point of the research, but that's what it says to me. It means that to me because I really think the church has something to offer those people that are so like me, but I have been pretty unsuccessful in communicating this effectively to any of these people.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

ASU oppresses the White Man!

A radical anti-affirmative action organization has released a study with the following shocking finding: Black students are 1100 times more likely to be admitted to the Sandra Day O'Connor School of Law that white males. You can download the study here.

Now, this seems weird because I went to ASU. I recently astounded a colleague when I determined the number of Black students in my law school class by naming them. So, I looked at the study. Interesting, 5% of the students are Black. Doesn't sound like a huge advantage to being Black. But wait for it. 5% of the applicants were also Black. But what about the White students? 74% of the applicants and 74% of the student admitted. Weird. Seems like an exactly equal probability of admission.

Well, here's the discrepancy, check out the following charts

See, it's actually a White student with the same "credentials" as a Black student has an 1100:1 chance of getting in. Hmm. First off, they used LSAT and GPA in their calculation. The "background" component was residency. But the fact upon which they based their conclusion was that 232 of the 3,591 White students rejected by ASU had GPAs & LSATs higher than the median GPA & LSAT of the Black students that were admitted.

So, 93.5% of the White applicants who were rejected from ASU Law had either a lower GPA or a lower LSAT than the median of the Black students admitted. But what about the 7.5% who had higher scores than the median score of the Black students? Surely some of them simply had less interesting backgrounds, which is a componenet in a law school admission.

But, it is clear that Black students are typically admitted with lower GPAs & LSATs than Whites, even though only 7.5% of those rejected have better scores in both. I think law is a field where it is particularly important that all people be represented.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Believe versus Believe in

In what do you believe? This question is asking about in what things do you trust? To what things are you faithful? Answers for me would be democracy, my marriage, Jesus Christ.

It is a linguistic curiosity that believe can also mean you sort of know something. Who had the best record in baseball this year? I believe it was the Cubs. When we use believe to refer to a fact, a single condition that is or is not true, it means less than know.

Of course, fact play a part in moving us to believe in a world view like that listed in the first paragraph as well. Marriage is easiest. I have billions of tiny observations and experiences that have caused me to love my wife and think that she loves me. I submit that there is no single fact that if thought true, but found to be false would mean that I no longer believed in my marriage. Many facts could change things so that I no longer believed in my marriage, but it would be more profound than learning that a single fact was not true.

Is there any single fact that could shake my faith in Jesus Christ? Is there any single fact that would cause me to no longer believe in Jesus Christ?

It seems like there should not be any such fact that could undo my faith, right?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

James Preaches

My son, James (14), preached the sermon for youth Sunday today. My daughter Katherine (10) dedicated the shawls that she and some others at the church have been knitting and will give to the Phoenix Children's Hospital later this week. Katherine also provided music in the children's choir, which I lead as Sunday school teacher of the 5 to 11 year-olds. It was a pretty special day.

James and I worked on the sermon through the week. We talked about the scripture. He read some commentaries. We discussed some public speaking techniques and some structural things. We also talked about putting together a message that related to the people at Chalice. He did a great job. My mom said it best, telling him that not only did he do a wonderful job, but he sounded like James.

Driving to IHOP after church I was telling him what a wonderful job he did. We were talking about how special preaching was and how it felt different to us than giving a speech or a presentation. I recounted how Dad had always talked about feeling the Spirit move in him when he preached. James said he could see that. Then he reached into his jacket pocket and said, "Hey, look what was still in my suit coat, I found it there this morning when I put it on." It was the program from Dad's funeral folded such that only his picture was showing. "How about that" was all I could get out.

It sort of capped off the bitter sweet feelings I've been having all week. One minute feeling so connected to my Dad, like I was walking in his footsteps, the next so desperately missing him and wishing he could've been here to see his grandson. I suspect this grieving remembering combo is going to be with me for the rest of my life. It does cause me to tear up, but I do so while smiling.

The Cosmology of the Ancient Hebrews

I want people to search out the moral teachings of these stories that were not told to address scientific questions--questions that would not be asked for thousands of years after the stories were recorded--but rather were told to tell us how we related to God, both transcendent and eminent.

One way to encourage folks to do so is to point out the two creation stories are not easily reconciled. I say not easily reconciled because you can certainly add new facts to the stories to bring them in line with each other. Here's an example I came up with: the first creation story is how everything was created, then the second story is how a specific couple of people were created. Now, that's not what the Bible says, in fact it is probably contradicted by the Gen. 2:4, but it is a third creation story that incorporates all of the facts from the other two. Adding new facts doesn't seem very "literal."

Recently, I've focused on the different images of God in the first and second story. I prefer this to arguing over details, because talking about details encourages bright people to try and figure out a way to make both stories fit. Focusing on the tone, turns ones attention to the transcendent nature of God recounted in Gen. 1, and the eminent/God with us nature of God in Gen. 2.

But, here's another shot at it. The first creation story and the flood story assume the cosmology of the Hebrew people of the era. Here is a picture.And here are some words in support of this vision.
When God created the world (that's the transcendent of the first creation story) he split the water into two parts to create the dome pictured above.
And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
Gen. 1. After the Great Flood was over, God shut of the sources of water and allowed the world to dry out.
But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky.
Gen. 8. The point is that these stories assume a cosmology that we must reject. It doesn't matter because the point of the stories is not to convey a cosmology. But continue to argue that there is anything about these stories that relates to the questions astrophysicists ask is a big mistake. That is, it will interfere with the seeker's efforts to find the great truth they hold.