Monday, 30 June 2008

The Loser Letters #6

We Must Not Overlook the Children

In this sixth Loser Letter, a former Christian (A F Christian) offers some timely counsel from rebab to her new found athiest heroes. Apparently, they have entirely overlooked, or chosen not to look, at the effect children have on the Dulls--the believers. Apparently, families and children are a means by which Dulls come to faith and are strengthened in their belief. Fellow atheists are hard put to deal with this, since by-and-large the Brights are predominantly anti-family and anti-children-- sentiments which A F Christian strongly endorses. Read this sixth Loser Letter here.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Sabbath Meditation

Seeing Not as the World Sees

Only Jerusalem can Replicate the Balance and Harmony of God

Ever since the Enlightenment, there has been a constant emphasis upon the individual. This arose from the Enlightenment's elevation of human reason to a position of the semi-divine. The rationalist mind, the thinking man, became the highest locus of authority and truth. Descartes', “I think, therefore I am” is an apt encapsulation of this individualising of meaning, truth, and being.

Out of this came various political theories emphasizing individual human rights. Thus, classic Western liberalism was born. Also, and ironically, the same idolatry produced opposite political theories: Rousseau and others trumpeted the collective expression of individual autonomous reason. The collective Will of the People, as determined and mediated through the citizen deputies of the Assembly, came to be the justification for extreme tyranny and bloodshed.

The Church of the Lord has been infected by this relentless torrent of individualising mankind. Personal salvation, personal conversion, personal devotional life, personal divine guidance, and personal “revelations” have increasingly dominated western Christendom. Sadly, as is often the case, these emphases arise more out of the prevailing paganism of Athens than the Scriptures.

If you were to toss the influence of the “Enlightenment” into the garbage heap and cease looking at the Scripture through Enlightenment glasses, one of the things that would be immediately obvious is that in the biblical world-view, the individual is neither higher nor lower than the corporate, and the corporate is neither higher nor lower than the individual. Each has its place, authority, sphere, responsibilities and function. Each needs the other to be truly authentic. As God's people, both individually and collectively, obey His commands and instructions, a wonderful harmony between the One and the Many emerges.

The pattern for this is the Triune nature of God Himself. In the Godhead, we have three Persons in One God. The Oneness of God is not more important or fundamental than His Many-ness. In God, the One and the Many (which just happens to be a fundamental philosophical problem) are equally ultimate.

Likewise, in the creation, the Lord has called into being corporate entities and individual entities: both alike are equally ultimate.

A clear example is the institution of marriage. For the cause of marriage, we are told, a man (individual) shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his (individual) wife, and they shall be one. In the marriage, which is more important: the individuals entering the marriage, or the marriage itself? Neither. Both alike are equally important. Marriage has an aspect of diversity and an aspect of unity. In a wonderful divine scheme, it turns out that those marriages which work best and have the highest manifestations of unity, harmony, and oneness are precisely those which reflect enhanced individuality of the spouses. The popular adage “opposites attract” provides an albeit superficial hint of this reality.

The equal ultimacy of the one and the many within Jerusalem can also be seen under the terms of the Older Covenant. Israel was bound together as the one covenant people of God. Over and over the Lord indicated to Israel that He had set His love upon one people, one collective, one nation, one family and its descendants. He had not set His love upon all peoples, all nations (that would come later).

Nevertheless this emphasis upon the corporate entities of faith did not overshadow individual faith or the personal believing heart. In fact it enhanced it. For example, the Psalms represent the deepest trials, struggles, doubts, joys, and faith of the individual heart found anywhere, in any time, in any literature, throughout in all human history.

But a brief skimming of the Psalms also tells us that the longing of the individual believer was for corporate Israel, God's people, and public worship. The individual longing of the soul was also a longing to be one with the Lord and His people. It was a longing for the Lord of hosts.
O Lord of hosts, how lovely, Thy tabernacles are,
For them my heart is yearning in banishment afar.
My soul is longing, fainting Thy sacred courts to see;
My heart and flesh are crying, O living God for thee.
Psalm 84.
It is Greek and pagan rationalism which has distorted the understanding of the Newer Covenant into one which emphasizes the individual at the expense of the corporate, the many at the expense of the one. It is the animus of Unbelief which wants to pull apart what God has put together. If you read the Newer Covenant documents without Enlightenment glasses you will see immediately the continuation of the one and the many, the equal importance and weight of the individual and the corporate from the Older Covenant to the New Covenant. The weight and emphasis upon Kingdom and Church in the New Covenant is equal with that of the emphasis upon the need for personal repentance and faith and sanctification.

In the Middle Ages, again under the influence of Greek rationalism, the One became to be regarded as far more important than the Many; the corporate was more fundamental than the individual. Thus, the church (or the state) was more fundamental and important than the individual believer. It was the church which set itself up between (and above) man and God. The Reformation attacked this falsity at its root, with its stress upon individual repentance, faith and sanctification. But the Reformation also stressed the importance of the corporate, the church, the community, and the state as equally legitimate and divinely appointed institutions within the Kingdom of God.

But if paganism could not make the one ultimate, it would swing to the other extreme and make the many ultimate. So, the Enlightenment was born as a reaction of the many against the one, and the pendulum swung to the other extreme.

Jerusalem takes its mark and cue from the Lord, not from Athens. As part of sweeping its streets and carrying out its garbage, it needs to rid itself of the Enlightenment. Jerusalem knows that eventually the Enlightenment, which last century produced the bloodiest one hundred years in all human history, will eventually come to be seen as the beginning of a terrible Dark Age. Jerusalem needs to recover that wonderful harmony and balance between the one and the many, the individual and the corporate, that is so beautifully “archetyped” in God Himself. This is part of what it means to be the City set upon a great hill, the wonder of the whole earth.

As Athens progressively whipsaws itself into pieces, racked first with making the Many absolute, then flicking back to the extreme of making the One ultimate, the City of God will, by contrast, be seen as a bright and beautiful light in an otherwise benighted world.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

The Mythology of Evolution

We Don't Believe in It Anymore
It's an Illusion, It's an Illusion .
. .

No-one really believes the theory of evolution. Well, maybe a few isolated extreme sociopaths do. But for the rest of mankind, evolution is profoundly disbelieved.

Yet, it has a very useful function, nonetheless. Its utility is akin to Locke's concept of the Social Contract. Locke was trying to justify the existence of limited and proscribed civil government. The original state of mankind—the state of nature—he argued, was one of no laws, no governments, no restrictions upon anyone's rights. However, this proved to be unworkable, so mankind entered a Social Contract, whereby man voluntarily surrendered some rights in order to establish protections of property and life.

The Social Contract was a formal warranting concept—a philosophical notion—that gave legitimacy to civil government and its laws. No-one really believed, including Locke, that there was an actual time in the history of mankind where a universal human convocation was held and men decided to cede some of their rights to a civil government.

Evolutionism functions in our society in exactly the same way. No-one really believes it, but it is a useful fiction, because it places man at the top of the tree of being (which is rather nice) and it removes the idea of sin and judgment in the hands of an angry God (which is even nicer). It also justifies just about every libertinistic moral impulse or action imaginable (which is nicer still).

But no-one really believes it. Even the academic and scientific propagators and defenders of evolutionism are just going through the motions. They don't really believe it either—except as a formal warranting philosophical concept.

We know that no-one really believes the theory, because no-one is prepared to stand up and advocate, much less live out, evolutionism as an ethic. No-one is prepared to be evolutionistic. At first glance this may seem rather strange. If someone were to say that they believed in Islam, one would expect that they would endeavour to live out their lives as an Islamic—in a manner consistent with the teachings of Islam. If they failed to do so, or disregarded the teachings of the Koran and Islamic traditions, we would quickly conclude that they were hypocritical, or they were really infidels (to use an Islamic category).

But for some reason, similar assessments are not made over evolutionism, its belief, and its practice. All of which leads to the conclusion that evolutionism is a myth of convenience.

How should an evolutionist be expected to live? We would expect him to hold up and seek to live out the ethic that lies at the heart of evolutionism—that the survival of the fittest is not only the greatest engine of progress, but that only by the outworking of this ethic, will life and existence be maintained. This would be a consistent and entirely reasonable position for an evolutionist. Now, of course, evolutionism is meaningless because the “survival of the fittest” is a tautology—something that is true by definition. But let's not get side tracked on technicalities.

Evolutionists at the very least should be expected to ensure the survival of the species by destroying all threats, including threats from other creatures. Evolutionists should also, not only advocate, but be actively involved in the killing off of the weak to ensure that the strong are made stronger. If food is short, solve the problem by exterminating the overly-numerous mouths—that is what evolutionists should be advocating. The elderly should be terminated, or exposed so that they die off. This very act makes the living stronger. They are no longer distracted and dissipated by worthless concerns. For the true evolutionist, these things would be amoral—except that the process of terminating the weak both ensures the survival of the species, and ensures the progress of being from lower to higher life forms.

We are aware, of course, that some fundamentalist evolutionists have danced a merry jig trying to avoid these implications, which for some reason they find unpalatable. They have suggested that the evolution of mankind has reached such an advanced stage and man is such a higher life form that he has been able to turn away from the raw brute fight to survive by killing and destroying others. Man is so advanced on the chain of being that he has evolved into co-operative activity. Yes, the jig for these die-hard fundamentalist evolutionists is very lively and frenetically danced. Mankind is so advanced that he has been able to banish evolution. The doctrine that the survival of the fittest is necessary to enable a species, well, to survive has been retired.

But these fundamentalists surely could not object in principle if other human beings disagreed and were successful in terminating them. Such road kill would help ensure the survival of the species.

No-one really thinks and acts like this—which is to say that no-one really believes in the theory of evolutionism. The most die-hard fundamentalist evolutionists spend most of their time arguing that the process has actually stopped now—which is deeply and richly ironic. They can be dismissed as fatuous idiots. But what of the rest of the population?

Just as Locke and all the Contract theorists did not actually believe in the historicity of the Social Contract, so the vast majority of people today could not care at all whether evolutionism is actually literally true or not, or whether it actually occurred. Its value lies in what the theory justifies or warrants.

That makes evolutionism a pearl of great price for the Unbeliever. He will sell all that he owns to possess it, even, especially, and literally, his own soul.

Friday, 27 June 2008

ChnMind 2.3 The Constitutionalist Nature of the Kingdom

The Kingdom That Maximises Liberty

In these series of “Constitutionalist Essays” we are concerned to trace out what the Kingdom of God looks like as it comes to pass upon the earth. All kingdoms or societies or cultures have conventions, institutions, legal systems, and governmental systems. The Kingdom of God is no exception. What is unique about the Kingdom of God, however, is that its constitutional documents are the Holy Scriptures.

In the first place, we should state the obvious. The Kingdom of God is not a democracy (although it has democratic elements); it is not a republic (although it has features often found in republican forms of government); neither is it a dictatorship (although its Leader has totalitarian authority over everyone and everything.

The Kingdom of God is a monarchy—it has a King. The King is a heavenly Man: His authority and power are so limitless and vast that His realm touches and rules even the thoughts and intents of every other human heart. But—and here is a vital point—His Kingdom exists in and through the created world. His rule and government is through the means of His creatures. He delegates His authority to servants, to stewards who by His Spirit think, act, work and rule according to their responsibilities, each according to His command.

The citizens of the Kingdom, of Jerusalem, think every thought after Him, bring every thought captive to Him, and learn to obey every teaching and every command which He has given. The extent of His reign is so comprehensive, His commands and realm reaches even to the way we eat and drink (“Whether then you eat and drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31). It also reaches to the greatest of earthly lords—who are likewise, mere servants and subordinate magistrates, to the King of all kings. It includes the natural order. It embraces the legions of angels. All these, from the least to the greatest, are His servants, His ministering angels, to do His bidding and command. His Kingdom has both come, and is therefore coming.

Over all this entire realm stands His law and directives. These directives function as the Constitution of the Kingdom, since all facets of the Kingdom are subordinate to Him and are His accountable servants. These directives are found in the Holy Scriptures. Consequently, the Holy Scriptures are the Constitutional Documents of the Kingdom of God. They are the higher law, to which all human activity, all human government, all culture must subject itself—lest it be found in rebellion and opposition to the King, Himself.

It is essential, if we are to understand and participate in the Kingdom as truly profitable servants, that we have a clear understanding of the nature of these Constitutional Documents.

Firstly, these Constitutional Documents are unique. They alone, out of all writings, are definitively His Word. They bear, carry, and represent all His power, authority, majesty and dominion. Consequently, by them mankind must live. (“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4). He has bound Himself in His dealings with us to these Constitutional Documents: He commands and requires that we do the same.

Secondly, these Constitutional Documents are common, near, accessible, and open to all in the Kingdom, since everyone in the Kingdom is His servant and steward. It is part of the great wonder of the Kingdom that His words and commands are not difficult to get, nor are they far off. Instead they are here, amongst us, accessible to us, in terms, concepts, and cultural constructs that we can understand. The Scriptures represent the incarnation of God's Word into humanity in such a way that it is accessible to everyone. As He says in the wonderful words of Deuteronomy:
For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. It is not in heaven that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?”
Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it that we may observe it?” But this word is very near you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may observe it. (Deuteronomy 30: 11—14)

Thirdly, the universal accessibility of the Word of God means that in the Kingdom of God, no entity or institution can claim prior rights to that Word, nor be regarded as its infallible interpreter or keeper. The least individual who stands upon the authority and teaching of Scripture with respect to himself has as much or higher authority that the highest judges, for no-one “owns” or “keeps” the Constitutional Documents. Out of this reality comes the notion of true Liberty of Conscience in the Kingdom.

The Westminster Confession briefly touches on this most important concept:

God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, with are in any thing contrary to His Word; or beside it, if matters of faith and worship. So that, to believe such doctrines or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience: and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience is to destroy liberty of conscience and reason also. (Westminster Confession of Faith 20:4)

Fourthly, the Constitutional Documents are final and complete, and do not require constant addition, correction, emendation or amendment. The Constitutional Documents are not “dynamically evolving—which would be to say they were failures and inadequate to serve as a true Constitution—but they are complete and infallibly adequate. To the Unbelieving Mind—this (along with everything else in the Kingdom) is an impossibility. But for the Kingdom itself, and all its citizens, it is necessarily true.

Only the omniscient God could give the Kingdom a Constitution that was so final, so complete, so infallible, so sufficient that it has addressed all circumstances of all cultures in all times in the past, the present, and in the long years ahead in such a way that the Holy Scriptures are sufficient and adequate that His people know what to do, what He commands, and what will please Him in whatever circumstances come to pass.

Only the Almighty God could so superintend and govern all human history that every manifestation and circumstance of human existence would not be “new” or beyond Scripture, but would remain adequately addressed and comprehended by it, despite the fact the Scriptures were completed nearly two thousand years ago.

The Scripture itself testifies to its own completeness and finality. They now contain the full, complete, and exact representation of God (Hebrews 1:3) whereas prior to the manifestation of the Son of God, they contained partial and incomplete information. They are now sufficient to bring every thought captive to Christ (II Corinthians 10:5). They are now adequate to instruct in every good work (II Timothy 3: 17). “Every good work” is so extensive, that, as we have seen, it includes even the most mundane activities, such as eating and drinking, right through to whatever we do. (I Corinthians 10:31)

The glory of the Holy Scriptures is that they are comprehensive, full, final, adequate, and complete. Thus, they alone, can serve as the Constitutional Documents of the Kingdom—for every individual, and for all its institutions.

A necessary corollary of this is that within Jerusalem the authority of all human institutions and entities is therefore limited and proscribed. This, in human terms, means that the Kingdom of God is the city where freedom (both individual and corporate) is maximised in a way that Athens cannot replicate or ever hope to achieve. There are many passages of the Constitution which could be cited to demonstrate this, but one will suffice: when the Lord met with Peter at Galilee after his denial, and both restored and instructed him, Peter, feeling under pressure, saw the disciple, John close by. We read: “Peter therefore seeing him [John] said to Jesus, 'Lord, and what about this man?' Jesus said to him, 'If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!'” (John 21: 21,22)

By that one sentence, our Lord prohibits all tyranny in His Kingdom. All must respect His higher direction, will and appointment. All must accede to the rights of the King. It means that Athens and its power structures have no place in Jerusalem. In that Holy City, because Christ commands everyone in His Word, we (both individually and collectively) are left free from the tyranny of man lording it over us.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

The End of the World and Other Trivia

When Laughter is the Best Medicine

The end is nigh! The world as we know it is about to end! We are now experiencing prophets of doom on every side. It used to be that one would occasionally see a few isolated people carrying placards warning that Armageddon was about to happen. Now apocalyptic warnings are found everywhere.

Recently, a Convention on Catastrophes was held in Toronto. We kid you not. All the possible catastrophes had displays and booths, so that those titillated by such (apparently) real-life horror could go and get their frights. Fear was the underlying thrill. We are not prepared. We are going to be caught out.

Showcased catastrophes ranged from flu pandemics, to cyber warfare, climate change, rising water levels, food shortages, pandemics, and to meteors ending life as we know it. One speaker apparently frightened his audience by asking, What would happen to the world if the internet just stopped? Well, we mutter, we would just call up Al Gore, who apparently invented the thing in the first place, and get him to fix it. No, seriously it apparently could just stop, since governments, organised crime and extremist groups in at least 140 countries now claim they could launch a full scale cyber war by the end of the year. It must be serious then.

One of the catastrophe experts who consults to large corporations and anyone else who will pay the fee to help them get prepared for catastrophes, has an icebreaker guaranteed to get attention: “What if Martians came?” What indeed.

One of the speakers was a gentleman from NASA whose job it was to track asteroids which could hit the earth. He and his colleagues have identified one which has a three percent probability of hitting the earth on Friday, April 13th, 2029—get that date. It has to be serious. If this were to strike it would be equivalent to Hiroshima every second for ten and a half hours. That is goosebump territory. The pitiable man from NASA sadly told his audience that this sort of thing “keeps us up at nights.”

Poor chap. His sleep deprivation and exhaustion will have killed him off long before 2029. Maybe that's his cunning plan. If you can't beat it, get in early.

What is happening here? At its most superficial level people love the thrill of being frightened. When we were children we loved to play “flashlight” and scream in terror. We loved boogey man stories. When we got a bit older some of us went to horror movies. Catastrophism could be seen as just the same, but for adults. It makes us scared, gets us worried, and we get a little adrenalin kick.

At a more pathetic level, it could be that preoccupation and fascination with doomsday scenarios makes us feel important. Yes, well, my life might be falling apart, but at least I am confronting the really big issues, like pandemics and cyber war. That makes me significant and important—so there! I am a serious heavyweight when it comes to the big issues. It reminds us of the sweet wife who said to her husband, “Dearie, I'll take care of all the little details of the family—where to live, what house to buy, where to send the kids to school—that kind of trivia, and you focus on the really big and important stuff, like, When should the US get out of Iraq?”

If this were all modern catastrophism represented it would be both stupid yet relatively harmless. Yet we suspect there is something more profound playing out here. As secular humanism has become more dominant, its amorality has become more evident and strongly entrenched. Secular humanism is materialistic in its world-view—that is, it assumes from the outset that there is no reality apart from the material and the physical. Amorality is a necessary corollary of materialistic secular humanism—there is is no right or wrong. There is just what is. Just as the sun is neither right nor wrong—it is amoral, morality with respect to the sun is not a meaningful concept—so, all of existence. (Actually, the fools to be most pitied, from the perspective of securalism, are those who claim to be secular humanists yet continue to speak and think in categories of right and wrong.)

This prevailing amorality, however, does not sit well with man as he actually is—a creature made in the image of the Living God. All men—every human being—since the Fall bears not only guilt feelings, but true moral guilt, whence the feelings of guilt arise. But secular humanism gives no way to assuage, atone for, nor redeem from guilt. It simply declares all guilt to be a fallacy. But that specious declaration does not change the reality. As a consequence, fear arising from a sense of guilt, coming vengeance, and punishment cannot be suppressed. It keeps coming out. It cannot be successfully suppressed.

That is why so many moderns rush around trying to put things right and do good. They want to make up for evil and things that are wrong—whether in their own lives, but more often amongst the race in general—they want to atone for the past and the present (and the future). But the guilt remains, for the Lord has appointed only one means by which the evil of man and resultant guilt can be assuaged—and that one means is the Cross of His Son. There is no other Name under heaven, given amongst men, by which we must be saved.

Because the sense of true guilt cannot be eviscerated or covered over, the heart of modern man inevitably turns to ideas of judgment. The secular version of judgment is to believe increasingly in catastrophes and calamities. It is to fear that we are all going to suffer terribly. But, as always, the calamities do not represent true moral judgment upon true moral guilt (for in the secular humanist world such things cannot exist) but a vague fear that the world, Nature, the universe, or something is out to get us.

Why? we ask. Because we deserve it. We have polluted. We have cut down rain forests. We have not taken care of the poor. We have discriminated against homosexuals. We have poisoned the planet. We have not given women rights over their own bodies. We have conducted wars. Our governments have told lies. Big business has done nasty things. Wal Mart has impoverished and exploited people in the Third World--and yes, I share in their guilt because (I confess) I have shopped there. I share in their guilt. The litany of evil goes on. We will suffer the consequences. We will be punished. Catastrophes are on their way.

Notice that in this litany of indictments something is missing—there is no conscious acknowledgement of true personal moral guilt. Rather, for the most part, it is all corporate sin, which has tainted individuals, despite ourselves. And a pre-occupation with corporate sin can deflect neatly from the real issues. As one Christian wag once put it, “To love the whole world is no chore; my only real problem is my neighbour next door.” Indeed.

But the litany of confessed sin within secular humanist is largely of the corporate variety. We have done this. We have done that. Therefore, we are all going to cop it. I am going to try to hunker down and survive as best I can. It's not me—someone else, some other intangible, large “thing” is to blame, but we are all going to suffer as a consequence. This is the nearest the secular humanist can come to acknowledging sin.

But when society enters finally into the “corporate sin and coming judgment” mindset, catastrophism blooms. In such a community zeitgeist, the more fearful you become and the more threats you can identify, the more sensitive, caring, responsible, holy, and sanctified you see yourself. In the modern world, the truly holy and the pious are those racked with secular fears and dreads—very much like the kind of false piety prized across much of Europe in the Middle Ages.

Years ago, when we saw the chap walking up and down with a placard warning of the end of the world, everyone shook their heads and laughed. Now, the doomsayers are revered as prophets to their own generation. Now people reverence the ground they walk on. Those that laugh now are called unbelievers and apostates, wreckers and haters of humanity.

But laughter in the face of such secular humanist folly remains indeed the most appropriate and apposite response.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

The S-Files

John Armstrong Makes Sure the Facts Get in the Way of Clark's Good Story

S-Award given to John Armstrong, Herald Columnist

Contra Celsum is pleased to nominate John Armstrong, Herald Columnist for an S-Award in acknowledgment of his skillful dissection of a Prime Ministerial utterance, exposing the embedded lies.


The Prime Minister, Helen Clark has pronounced that there will not be enough time to include the citizens' initiated referendum on the issue of smacking, parental discipline and family violence in the forthcoming general election. The Herald headline gilded the Prime Ministerial lily by telling us that “time had run out” for the petition. What a porky!

John Armstrong has long been a fan, if not a devotee, of Helen Clark and her increasingly dysfunctional government. For over five years, he has used his column in the NZ Herald to act as a (presumably) self-appointed Clark acolyte, sounding board, cheer leader, complimenter extraordinary, mentor, and coach. Over many years, the closest he has got to being critical is to offer suggestions about what she ought to do to maintain her hold over the electorate. A very, very friendly critic indeed.

But a litany of negative opinion polls can change one's perception, if not one's “positioning” to use the modern PR jargon.

In today's column, Armstrong analyses Clark's assertion that there is simply not enough time to include the citizens' referendum on the issue of child discipline with the general election poll later this year. Armstrong is as detached and cold as a mortuary slab as his scalpel-like reasoning slices away the flesh to expose the bare bones of the lie beneath.

Armstrong asks us to assess Clark's assertion that there will not be enough time to get organised to include the questions sought by the petitioners included in a national ballot paper. He notes:

1. If that were true, snap elections would also be an impossibility. Clearly snap elections are possible. Therefore, Clark is lying. He writes: “In case the Prime Minister has forgotten, the 1984 snap election was called by Sir Robert Muldoon just four weeks before polling day. Somehow, electoral officials coped.” Mmmm—we have about another four months to go to the general election. Could the Prime Minister be merely mistaken or deliberately obfuscating?

2. It must be relatively easy to organise a national referendum as part of a general election, since the law explicitly allows adjustment of the date of a citizens initiated referendum to be adjusted to co-incide with a snap election. He writes, “In fact, the law covering citizens-initiated referendums specifically allows Parliament to shift the date of a referendum to the day of a snap election. That suggests there is sufficient time and it is not a problem.” Could the Prime Minister be blatantly dissembling on this matter?

3. Previous governments have made very quick decisions on the inclusion of citizens' referenda on national ballot papers. Armstrong writes: “In 1999, the-then National Government took only a week to determine Norm Withers' petition for a referendum on violent crime would be held on election day.” Maybe the Prime Minister is saying—“yes, ordinarily, a government could be expected to act with integrity and alacrity on citizens' referenda, but but we are talking about the government which I lead and we have demonstrated repeatedly that we lack both integrity and alacrity, particularly when we are confronted with something with which we profoundly detest.”

4. There is still plenty of time left. Ballot papers cannot be printed until just three weeks before election day. “If Labour was as quick, there would still be the best part of two months to organise referendum arrangements. Given ballot papers for the general election cannot be printed until nominations close - around three weeks before election day - it is again hard to see what the problem would be.” Maybe the Prime Minister is being “parsimonious with the truth”.

There is a standing tradition or convention in New Zealand that wherever it can possibly be done, citizens initiated referenda should be included as part of a general election. It is not the cost-saving that is the most important factor (although that is not inconsiderable) but that voter turnout for such referenda are likely to be much much higher as part of a general election.

Thus, a far more complete picture of what citizens really think on an issue will come forth—which helps sustain the whole integrity of citizens' referenda. It would be harder for Parliament to disregard or ignore—if indeed there is strong national sentiment, one way or the other. By trying to prevent the anti-Bradford Bill petition being included in the general election ballot, Clark is showing just how anti-democratic and elitist she truly is.

At heart, Clark despises the people when they dare to have a view contrary to her own. If she truly believed in the value and integrity of citizens' initiated referenda, she should be moving heaven and earth to get it included. If Clark were a Prime Minister worthy of the position, name, and title she would willingly subject herself to the letter and intent of the law. It is deeply regrettable that Clark no longer regards herself as a servant of the people, but their Lord.

If Clark succeeds in preventing the referendum being held on election day, let us then make that one of the great central issues of the election. We suggest that if any credible opposition parties undertook to reconsider the legislation in Parliament, in the light of Clark's apparent bold-faced lying and intransigence, and to take into account the concerns of the petitioners, its electoral support would be considerably increased.

Meanwhile, we salute John Armstrong for his column on the issue.

John Armstrong: S-Award, Class I for actions in the course of duty that on this rare occasion were Smart, Sound, and Salutary.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Meditation on the Text of the Week

The Evidence of God Amongst Us

For I have chosen him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice; in order that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him
Genesis 18:19
One of the surest signs that a separation has taken place between the Lord and His people is when their children grow up denying the way of the Lord, and no longer walk in righteousness and justice. The heart of the covenant that the Lord makes with us is that the believer is both called and enabled to “command his children and his household after him.” When the heart of the covenant does not play out—that is when parents are unable to command their children to walk in the Lord's ways—it is grievous indeed.

When our children grow up walking in the faith and obedience of their fathers, the Lord's favour is upon us. As a result of successive generations of children rising in their day to serve the Lord, as their parents did before them, the promises of the Lord and the future He has laid out for His people and His kingdom will surely come to pass. Thus God's declaration to Abraham in Genesis 18:19. Faithful children are the necessary means by which the promise is to be fulfilled.

The question of, to whom do the children belong, has become a deeply contentious issue in our day. Athens, that City of Unbelief, declares and asserts that all children ultimately belong to the State. Parents are mere temporary and easily redundant guardians, who must stand aside whenever the State makes claims upon the children. The State regards all parents to be essentially foster parents in role and function. The State believes itself to be the ultimate parent; it claims an authority higher than all parents to ensure that children are fed, housed, clothed, educated, and protected. The Unbelieving community, for its part, unanimously endorses this dogma. It is the undoubted humanist faith.

Underneath, there is a more subtle and sinister dynamic—a conspiracy in which Unbelievers are mere willing tools. The Lord has made it clear that whether His blessings and His promises come to pass is contingent, dependent upon whether His people command their children and their households after them, and whether they succeed in raising them to walk in faithful obedience. Satan, that Adversary of old, therefore seeks always to undermine parents and the Christian family. A key tactic is to have Unbelievers assert with all vigour that children belong not to parents, but to the community of Unbelief, represented by the State.

The truth, however, is this: children belong to the Lord, not to man. They are His. The Lord has entrusted children to their parents for a time, for their nurture, training, and instruction. He makes every parent responsible to ensure that these entrusted children grow up keeping the ways of the Lord. That is the reason why the Lord has chosen us, the parents, according to our text. Such is our calling and responsibility.

Since Satan is a vanquished foe, a mere paper tiger, whom the Lord Jesus cast out at the Cross, his schemes and conspiracies are powerful only amongst his willing and easily-led servants—those conditioned to Unbelief. But his schemes are empty and vanity amongst the Lord's people, for they are animated and protected by the Spirit of God Himself—and greater is He who is in them, than he who is in the world.

Therefore, as we live in faith, as we humble ourselves before the Lord and His commandments and His righteousness and His justice, as we lift up our voices in prayer for our children, as we accept our God-given responsibilities toward the Lord's children entrusted to us, as grandparents take up their responsibilities to their grandchildren, the Lord blesses us, and our households end up walking after us, in our steps of faith. It is part of His great promise to us: “I will be a God to you and to your children after you.”

One of our favorite movies is “A Few Good Men.” At one point, the villain, Colonel Nathan Jessup (Jack Nicholson) heaps scorn on Lieutenant Caffey (Tom Cruise)—a preppy tyro—saying, “You know what you have done? You have just weakened a country today.” So it is every time a household of the Lord raises children to walk after the Lord. The country of Unbelief has been weakened. The Kingdom of God has been magnified. Extending the promises and blessing of the Lord universally over the whole earth has been made more certain.

When godly households are manifested and intergenerational faith is revealed, it is as if the Lord has taken up the words of the poet and addressed them to the lords of Athens: “Look on My works, ye mighty, and despair.” The doom for Athens is certain:
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Playing the Political Game--or Not.

We Need a Statesman, Not a C-Grade Ham Actor

One of the reasons folks follow national political discourse is its entertainment value. It can elide from the most startling game of charades to the theatre of the absurd in an instant. These days, political theatre has become so extreme, it requires a huge "willing suspension of disbelief" amongst the audience—which, of course, is the electorate.

When politicians are asked to explain or account for their outrageous behaviour or antics, they usually shrug and say, “Well, it's just politics. It's just part of the game we play. When I called my opponent in the house 'a broad yellow streak looking for a backbone to massage' I didn't really mean it, any more than an actor on stage would mean it. All of us involved know it's just a game.”

Well, unfortunately for politicians, most people in the community don't regard it as a game. Anything that carries the sanction of monopolistic force and compulsion cannot be regarded lightly. They are not willing to grant politicians the "willing suspension of disbelief". This is why politicians are generally at the lowest rungs of the ladder when it comes to surveys on what people regard as trustworthy professions. Most people see politicians as people who play roulette with their lives in the most cavalier manner. Most people regard politics as a convocation of C-grade pantomime actors, unable to deal with profound issues with even a modicum of truth or integrity. Underneath it all, most suspect politicians to be utterly venal and self-serving.

Well, these conceptions of politicians may be more or less just. But every so often the theatre of the absurd throws up politicians who are so extreme they threaten to destroy the game itself. During this government's term of office, we have seen two such harbingers of despite—from two very different poles.

The first is the Prime Minister, Helen Clark. She has substantially damaged the game. Clark does not believe that politics is a charade. For her it has always been deadly serious. For her it is personal all the way. She is a true believer. She is a hater of her opponents. They are morally offensive to her. For her, the jibes are not good-natured. They are metaphorical knives. This explains why Clark seems deeply disliked by her own colleagues. She is playing in the game, but appears not to realise it's a game, just like a rugby player who wants to carry on the biffo, despite the game having ended.

But this also explains in part why her popularity held up for so long. The electorate saw in her a politician who at last treated the whole enterprise with the seriousness and gravitas that it deserved. It was only when they began to understand what policies and direction Clark truly believed in, that they became a bit wary. Then when Clark took herself and her cause so seriously she was prepared to ride rough-shod over constitutional conventions and ram through self-serving legislation in the justification that she had a higher calling that required and legitimised such sedition—it was only then that the electorate began to become deeply uneasy.

The second politician who has risked destroying the game is Winston Peters. Yes, he comes onto the field from a very different direction than Clark. He is the master gamesman, the ultimate charade player. He plays the game so enthusiastically and extremely as a game that the public have become heartily disgusted with him. Unfortunately, Peters is displaying every day that he has become so corroded by his long time on the stage that he thinks the game is the truth, it is the reality.

Just this weekend, we have been treated to what must amount to the height of self-serving political hypocrisy. Peters has been fulminating against the Fijian Government for its alleged hacking into e-mails which purportedly show the New Zealand Government to be conspiring against the current Fijian regime. This is the same Peters who lauded and clapped and cheered when the e-mails of Don Brash were hacked and used by his political opponents—including Peters. He laughed and jibed a treat. Such things will not be lost on the Fijian Government. His credibility and mana in Suva must now be beneath measurement. Our country is not well served by such a buffoon.

But in the same weekend, the same Peters, apparently with the irony lost upon him, announced his candidacy for the electorate seat of Tauranga, and compared himself to Muhammed Ali. He appears so taken with his own spin that he can no longer see it for what it is. The Game has become the reality. He has overlooked that the most graphic image conveyed by Ali these days is of an incoherent, brain diseased, crippled old man. A man to be pitied. How ironic that one of the most extreme players of the political charade has chosen an image that conveys so accurately all that Peters now represents, while he himself misses the point.

Clark and Peters have equally undermined the charade of politics, but for very different reasons. But this has created a profound opportunity—rarely seen in political history. It had created an opportunity for someone in political leadership to step up to chart a new direction. If someone were to stand up who eschewed the political theatre of the absurd, who, while being irrepressibly good humoured and humble, would show that they treated the issues of government and law with the utmost seriousness and respect, who would demonstrate profound regard for historical constitutional conventions, who would regard holding office as a fiduciary privilege rather than a right, who would despise cheap political points and the scoring of propaganda points, and who had an abiding respect for the citizens of the nation—that person would have the opportunity to lead our nation into a new beginning.

Such opportunities do not come along often. Will they be taken? Or will we be condemned to just one more act in play which never seems to end in the political theatre of the absurd.

At this juncture in its history, New Zealand desperately needs a statesman, not a two-bit, ham actor. Will Athens be able to produce one? We will see.

The Loser Letters #5

The Irritant of Atheist Defections

In this fifth Loser Letter, A F Christian, (aka Mary Eberstadt) moans and complains about the traitorous defalcations from atheist ranks--defections by some of the best and brightest of the Brights. Click here to read the full story.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Sabbath Meditation

The Power of a Christian Household Culture

There has been a lot written and spoken about the Christian family and Christian homes in recent years. One reason for this pre-occupation has been the weakening of the family as an institution generally through society. The Christian community has made a determined effort to march to the beat of a very different Drummer and build families that are strong and biblical, even as more and more families fall apart within Athens.

In answering the question, How then should our families live? at times there has been an over-emphasis upon details and techniques of family living. This has sometimes occurred at the expense of a focus upon the culture of a particular family. Every household has a particular culture (an atmosphere, an environment, pervasive themes, emotional climate, etc). Family cultures shape and inform everything that the family does.

This culture is as important as any particular, and it behoves families to become culture conscious, to “stand back” and think about their household culture, and what it ought to be like.

Here are ten themes that we suggest should should colour every Christian household, informing and shading everything that is done within the family.

1.That Christ is the Head of the household—that the household belongs to Him and is dedicated to serving Him.

2.That the household is distinct and different from others. There should be a sense of the household having been marked by the Lord, of all members of the household having been set apart by the Lord and belonging to Him.

3.It should be clearly evident that the Word of God is over the doorposts and lintels of the house.

4.The dominant corporate family activity should be worship. The household needs to be imbued with a culture of family worship. This activity should be more fundamental and important than anything else which the family does together.

5.The Sabbath should be the household's highest and greatest joy. It should be a day of celebration, the high point of which is the family worshiping publicly together in the congregation of the Lord.

6.There needs to be a deep, shared sense that the whole household is beloved of the Lord, and that all members enjoy His favour and grace.

7.There should be a deep sense of the household being part of a long and noble lineage; that the household is part of a nation of kings and priests to God

8.Children should grow up knowing that the whole household has been appointed to the role and responsibility of being a steward in God's greater household. Consequently, each household member will therefore come to have particular and special callings and responsibilities given by God. These callings in life will be a high privilege. Every member of the household will end up making a special, unique contribution to the glory of God's Kingdom.

9.There should be an undergirding theme that work is sacrament—an honour, a privilege, and a great spiritual blessing.

10.There must be a conviction throughout the household that it will be loyal to the death to Christian brothers and sisters. As we have opportunity, it is our privilege to serve them.

This culture should be pervasive. Any particular instruction or encouragement needs to come to children within that general context. As parents build the household culture described above, all particular training and instruction will become much more powerful and effective.

As parents draw back from the particulars and the day-to-day details of family life, as they work to build a culture and context for Christian living, and as they establish a strong Christian culture within their households, the daily particulars will have all the more point, power, and meaning.

That is one reason why the Sabbath is such a powerful means of grace. It helps us establish and build a strong Christian culture within families—provided we use it and exploit it, the way the Lord intends and has directed.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

ChnMind 2.2 The Voluntary Nature of the Kingdom

"Not By Might, Nor Power, but By My Spirit"

The Kingdom of God or the City of God has a constitutional framework derived from Scripture. As the Kingdom comes to pass—as it emerges and comes to greater presence and reality within any society—the structures of the Kingdom will become more evident, more influential, more powerful. But how does it come? How is the Kingdom propagated? How does it grow?

There are two options. Either the Kingdom comes by compulsion and force, or it comes by the will and desire of its citizens. It is either a Kingdom of compulsion or of voluntarism. The Scriptures make clear that the Kingdom of God comes (from a human perspective) by the will and desire of people, not by the imposition of human force, power or command.

We recognise, of course, that there are compulsory components and realms in every society. The civil magistrate, for example, does not make mere suggestions when punishing crime. Paying of taxes to support the civil magistrate is not voluntary—and so forth. (We will endeavour to address this in greater depth in the weeks and months ahead).

So, when we argue that the City of Jerusalem comes by the will and desire of the people, we are not saying that there are no compulsory elements to the Kingdom. However, we are arguing that the elements of compulsion within the City arise out of God's command, on the one hand, and the willing determination of the people to subject themselves to the Lord's command, on the other.

The Kingdom of God must first manifest itself in the hearts of people. Its initial beachhead, then ongoing penetration, of a pagan culture occurs through the proclamation of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. As people repent of their sins, and believe on Him, having been moved to do so by the Holy Spirit regenerating them from above, their lives, wills, hearts, and desires are fundamentally changed. For the rest of their lives they will seek and attempt to live out their lives as disciples of the Lord, being taught to observe all things which the Lord has commanded. (Matthew 28: 18—20)

This conversion from being a citizen of Athens, the City of Unbelief, to the being a citizen of Jerusalem can only take place as the mind, emotions, and will of a person are changed by God from above. Once the person was blind, now they see. Once they were dead in their trespasses and sins, now they have been made alive. This change comes about because of God's sovereign, saving work in the life of the individual soul. This amazing work of divine mercy is trenchantly summarised in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, when it asks, “What is effectual calling?”

Effectual calling is a work of God's Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, He doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the Gospel
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 31
Such a change and transformation cannot occur by the devices or engines of man. It cannot be forced upon anyone. Only God can change the heart of unbelief. Only God can cause the dead to live. On the other hand, as a result of God's sovereign work, the individual comes to love God and desire to serve Him. From a human perspective, then, the Kingdom of God comes to pass as people “volunteer willingly in the day of His power.” (Psalm 110: 3)

As a result of Christ's ascension on high, and His sitting at the right hand of God, more and more people will inevitably be converted by divine power to become willing servants. The Kingdom of God is thus fundamentally a Kingdom which comes peacefully, out of the hearts of its citizens. It is a free expression of their new life in Christ. That is why the City of Athens and the City of Jerusalem can co-exist to an extent in the same physical location. That is why Jerusalem does not take up arms against Athens. It is not entitled to do so. It is not how the Kingdom comes.

Sadly, the reverse is not true. Athens, in principle a city of hatred towards God, will always tend to counsels and policies which involve hostile force against Christ's disciples. Athens cannot change hearts and minds. In opposing Christians, it must therefore finally resort to force--which also in the end fails miserably. True, there is perpetual spiritual warfare between these two Cities. But as more and more people enter Jerusalem's gates, departing Athens to do so, the City of Athens (its influence and power, its institutions and culture) attenuates and withers away. The Kingdom is like yeast which works as a leaven throughout Athens, transforming it from the inside out.

The Kingdom of God comes not by the sword, but by the Spirit. Not by force, but by faith. Not by compulsion, but by God's effectual calling. Not by war, but by peace. That is why Jerusalem name means the City of Peace. As God's Kingdom captures more and more people, transforming them from the inside out, the cultural influence and power of Jerusalem grows. It will happen as an inevitable consequence.

In our temporarily post-Christian world less than five percent of the population appear to be genuinely Christian—that is, less than five percent not only profess faith outwardly, but show that it comes from their hearts. The percentage may have a huge margin of error—only God knows. But we acknowledge that the percentage is not large. Imagine the radical difference to our society, its institutions, its government, its schools, and its culture if over eighty percent of the population were genuinely Christian. How much crime would simply have withered away? How much joy and laughter and happiness would be on the streets? How much respect and care for the aged, the infirm, the poor, the widow, the orphan?

A story is told of a student common room in a theological college years ago where an expensive camera had been left on one of the tables. No-one knew who the owner was. It was left untouched for days, until finally its owner realised it was missing and re-claimed it. No theft. You cannot manufacture that. It has to come from the hearts of all in the community—which then manifests itself as a cultural practice. It then becomes “ordinary” or “normal”. This is what the Bible alludes to, when God promises that the day is coming when they will no longer say, “Know the Lord”: for they will all know me from the least to the greatest. (Jeremiah 31:34 & Hebrews 8:11)

From God's perspective, the Kingdom comes by forceful, irresistible power. In this sense, the City of Jerusalem is a city of divine compulsion. From our perspective, the Kingdom comes by faith, desire, and willingness. In this sense, the City is, at the same time, one of human will and choice.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Conduct Unbecoming a Nation and Its People

Gambling: Official Money Laundering at Its Best

Successive New Zealand governments have protected, promoted, subsidised and owned nationwide gambling “businesses”. To this day, the government owns (and makes money from) Lotto, the nationwide weekly lottery, which has outlets in every retail centre and many corner dairies in the country. Feel bemused?

The government also takes money from its citizens via tax and subsidies and supports specially favoured gambling “industries” such as horse racing. We even have a Minister of the Crown for Racing—the Honourable Winston Peters, who recently announced the government was committing $9 million to boost horse racing prize money in New Zealand. Feel proud?

The government has also acknowledged something called “problem gambling”. The Ministry of Health is now responsible for preventing and minimising “gambling harm”. Apparently some people can become addicted to gambling and consequently ruin their own lives and those of their dependents. Feel confused?

Whilst recent data are hard to come by (probably for good reason) one Auckland University academic claimed in a paper written in 2001 that the total gambling turnover per year in New Zealand was equal to the annual total government spend on health. In that same year, one of the government's (no doubt highly paid) analysts was reporting on a nationwide survey recently conducted by the government on gambling and sonorously informed us that only 41% of New Zealand adults over eighteen gamble more than once per week. Feel relieved?

In that same year, $1.7bn was reported to be “lost”, skimmed off by official and unofficial bookies. That amounts to around $400 being skimmed off every man woman and child in New Zealand. Naturally “every man, woman and child” in the country does not gamble. But if we spread that “take” over the 40% that gamble once per week or more, it would amount to approximately $1,000 being skimmed off every regular gambler a year. Feel angry?

So, those that gamble regularly are playing a fools game. It is their own folly; they deserve it. Part of the ethic of a free society is that people need to take responsibility for their actions, and bear the consequences. But is it appropriate that the government should be part of this vast scam? Is it appropriate that the tax payer should be having to support and promote gambling?

We do not believe so. We propose two direct changes. Firstly, the government must get out of all forms of the gambling “business” and all subsidies (direct and indirect) to the “industry”. It is far more inappropriate for the government to own a gambling “business” than it would be for it to own a brewery--which it never has. It is a throwback to a more primitive and ignorant era, and it needs to be stopped immediately.

Secondly, the government must mandate a disclosure regime for gambling similar to that which operates in virtually all other forms of financial transactions in the country. This regime must require that all gambling businesses and institutions fully disclose the fees, costs and charges that hit the average dollar of the average punter in any particular offering. So, for example, on all pokie machines there needs to be a notice of disclosure—large type, up front—that informs the consumer of the hidden costs he is likely to end up paying by playing on that particular machine, and that the more the “customer” gambles the higher the likelihood that he will end up paying those or higher costs.

In addition, disclosure must be made of the average percentage return on the average dollar gambled (which will be negative) and a statement to the effect that the more you gamble, the more you will experience that negative return.

Large type, up front, for every form of gambling. Then the “consumer” will be more informed. When consumers are informed responsibly of the true financial costs of gambling we believe the “industry” will shrink and wither. And that would not be a bad outcome.

And it will be gratifying to know that we no longer have to put up with funding a Minister (and Ministry) of Racing.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

The Emissions Trading Scheme

When Lunatics Run the Asylum

The New Zealand government has got us into an acidic, corrosive pickle. Flushed with messianic fervour, it rushed to sign the Kyoto Protocol. This obligated New Zealand to reduce carbon emissions.

The government, then and now, has no idea of the costs of that obligation. Never get in the way of idealist utopians when they are on the charge. Signing the treaty was all about political theatre—about making a statement. It was a grand propaganda exercise. In a global scale, New Zealand's emissions of carbon—even if they were proven beyond reasonable doubt to be harmful—are infinitesimally small. Even if the pseudo theory were true, and that, indeed, human carbon emissions were responsible for all increases in global temperature, New Zealand's emissions would be negligible.

While China and India refused to sign Kyoto and race ahead with economic development, their carbon output is increasing by the day. China is commissioning two new coal fired electricity generating plants every week. (Full marks to these nations—by the way. They have put the well-being of their citizens ahead of maniacal messianic utopianism. Would that western governments took their responsibilities and fundamental duties so seriously.)

So, New Zealand's contribution to the problem—if indeed there is one—was always going to be so small it was off the radar screen. But because our utopian government had a vision in search of a cause, it seized upon Kyoto as a way of idealistically leading the world. Costs did not matter. Moral high ground did.

Now we are faced with the problem of meeting our commitments. How on earth are we going to do it? Well, blow me down with a feather, it has finally dawned on the utopians in Wellington that the only way to reduce carbon emissions is to lower our standard of living—which is to say, everyone has to become poorer. But—due to the pandemic of cowardice which is always virulent amongst self-serving politicians—the government has not yet screwed up enough courage to tell the average Kiwi just how poor they are going to have to become in order to pay for Helen Clark's mad vision.

So the government has come up with a cunning plan to lower everyone's standard of living while guilding the lily. It is called an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The political spinmeisters have gone into overdrive telling us that the ETS is the only way we can meet our Kyoto obligations. And it sounds cool. The use of the word “trading” connotes commerce, business, technology, markets—really exciting things.

Imagine how this would have gone down like a lead balloon politically if the pollies had had the courage to name the idiotic scheme accurately and properly. Imagine how the people would have regarded the ETS as a cup of cold sick if it were named correctly. The Emissions Trading Scheme needs to be renamed the Emissions Taxing Scheme, for that is what it is. It is purely and simply a new (very large) government tax. Imagine the effect on the forthcoming election if the government was planning to go to the polls with a platform that said, vote for us, we are going to put up taxes for everyone and make everyone poorer to meet Kyoto obligations.

But the culture of lies, legerdemain and deceit would not tolerate such straightforward blunt honesty with the people. It has instead to be dressed up in fancy clothes and called a Trading Scheme. Blackadder would have approved of it as a truly cunning plan.

It is supposed to works like this:

1.The Government will target certain industries as “bad boys”—who will have to participate in the ETS. These will be industries or firms which are deemed to be big emitters of carbon into the atmosphere. They will have to purchase ( initially from the government) some emissions tickets—an emissions permit—very much like the system of having to purchase rubbish collection stickers to put on your rubbish bags to ensure collection. These businesses will be “obliged” to “surrender” these tickets as they emit carbon in the ordinary course of their commercial activities. It's like buying a ticket to “pollute”. This is the taxing part.

2.The effect of this will be that costs for everyone are going to rise. If Fonterra, for example, has to by carbon tickets and then surrender them, it will be forced to put up prices. The cost of dairy food will rise. If oil companies have to buy tickets, the cost of petrol will rise. It is an indirect tax. The bad boys according to Kyoto are essentially consumers of energy and producers of food. Food and energy—the heart of an economy. Tax these and everybody is poorer in the end.

3.Where do these tickets come from, and what is their price? Initially, the government will create them out of thin air. Some it will give away for free. These will be emitters the government wants to protect or favour. Pork barrels, anyone? Others, it will sell. If you are one of the bad boys, you will almost certainly be forced to buy. What will be the going price for a ticket? No-one really knows. As high as it needs to be. And how high is that? No-one knows. “Trust us,” says the government. “We know what we are doing.”

There have been speculations about what an international price of carbon credits/emissions might be. No-one knows the price. Nor will the market set the price the end of the day. The EMS does not represent an exchange between buyers and sellers in truth. It is a system to tax carbon emitters until the emissions level gets back to no higher than five times what it was in 1990. So, if carbon emissions in New Zealand do not fall, then the price will have to rise, and rise, and rise—until it does. That means that the price of tickets is ultimately going to be set by the government, by government fiat, not by the market. It is a pernicious form of price control. This is inescapable—because the whole elaborate edifice is nothing more than an attempt to achieve certain commitments under the Kyoto treaty.

The price of tickets will have to rise until economic growth slows down. That is the bottom line.

The carbon emitters (virtually everyone living—so all human commercial activity, and by implication all households) will have their emissions taxed, or fined—either directly or indirectly. A lot of money will flow into the government coffers as a result. Each year the government will issue new tickets, which companies will have to buy. The private sector has the opportunity to create tickets, which represent reduced or controlled emissions of carbon. They can then sell these to bad boys for a price. This is where the trading comes in. But if the private sector is not “creating” enough private sector tickets to sell to the bad boys, the government has to create them by fiat.

The idea is that eventually a traded, market price for carbon tickets will be established that will reflect the strength of either supply of, or demand for, the tickets. But imagine a case where the supply of tickets is low. Their price will rise substantially as the bad boys compete to buy them. Their costs will escalate. The government will come under pressure to reduce the cost, by issuing more tickets into the market. After all, they can be created out of thin air.

Or imagine if the supply of tickets were high. The government policy objectives under Kyoto would be in jeopardy, so it will remove tickets out of circulation, forcing up the price again. In the end, the market price will be set by the government, in the same way that in end the price of money is ultimately determined and set by the Reserve Bank.

Now comes a really loony part. All businesses and commercial enterprises want to maximise returns to their owners. They want to increase revenue, keep costs under control, and reduce their tax liabilities. The ETS gives them a new way to do just that: they can now start producing carbon credits which can be instantly sold for cash. Every business in New Zealand, regardless of what goods or services it produces, will overnight have a potential additional adjunct business—creating carbon credits. If history is any guide, and will be, very rapidly large numbers of businesses and commercial enterprises will be distracted into creating carbon credits. They had better, because if they don't they risk being effectively surtaxed as carbon emitters. The quality and efficiency of New Zealand business is about to take a huge dive.

So, let's understand this. Select businesses in select industries will be taxed via the ETS for carbon emissions. Costs will rise. Everywhere. To cope, businesses will get focused upon creating carbon credits. Meanwhile, New Zealand depends on its ability to trade in a global marketplace. It competes against other nations and their businesses every day. A lot of those nations who compete with us have ignored Kyoto and have no such obligations. At one fell swoop, the cost base for all businesses just rose, managements put at risk of becoming distracted to focus attention on manufacturing carbon credits, and we have strengthened our major competitors. Good one.

The result: our noble politicians will have succeeded in making New Zealand an example to the world—but not as they had hoped.

They will have made us an example of reckless stupidity. They will have established for all to see that we really are a nation of woolly headed sheep.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Are Right-Wingers Nicer People

Athens and the Balrog of Statism

Every so often a debate flares up over whether the Left or the Right are “nicer people.” It is usually a fatuous exercise, dominated by half truths and superficialities.

Recently, an article in the Daily Mail claimed that there was now a weighty body of academic research to indicate that “Right-wingers are happier, more generous to charities, less likely to commit suicide—and even hug their children more than those on the Left.” So provoked was the Daily Mail that it ran a competition amongst its readers to see who could offer the most convincing proof that Left-wingers are really more lovable.

Such debates are trite and superficial. They are intra-family debates. Athens, the City of Unbelief, has both a Right wing and a Left wing. Both alike are humanists and agree on the most fundamental premise of all Unbelief—that is, that Man is the ultimate determiner of life, meaning, and existence. The debate within Athens over Left versus Right is a debate about how Man ultimately functions best: as an individual or as a collective. The Right argues for the individual; the Left for the collective. However, the two views are mere flip sides of the same coin.

It turns out, however, that in Athens the Left always wins out over time. Unbelief is irresistibly pulled towards collectivism. The collective is more important than the individual. The State is more important than its citizens. The Right in Athens always moves over to the Left within a few generations. Athens is fundamentally and inescapably statist.

Why is this the case? Because of Unbelief's deepest philosophical and religious commitment is to the ultimacy of Man. The State has to assume a higher place over the individual within the City of Unbelief in time, because the State represents collective Man—which has to be more fundamental and important than a single individual in isolation—just as one hundred dollars carries more weight than one.

Moreover, because the State is intrinsically sanctioned by force, it is the most powerful representation, and therefore the highest manifestation, of Man. Within Athens the State inevitably becomes the most important, the most revered, the most regarded entity—which resides at the heart of Leftist ideology.

Secondly, it is inescapable that Athens has to operate within a world that is fallen. Sins, failing, crimes, natural disasters, and human caused disasters abound on every hand. These problems are so big, and at times so vast, that the only way the City of Unbelief can think to begin to address the problems is through collective action. Athens cannot bring itself to live with, or co-exist with, the problems. The confrontation with such problems represents an implicit attack on its most fundamental religious doctrine: the ultimacy of Man. If Man is ultimate, then Man has a duty to do something about these problems.

So, Man must eliminate injustice, poverty, disease, crime, ignorance, malnutrition, war. Within Athens it is tantamount to blasphemy to suggest that these things are to be co-existed with as part of a fallen existence. No, Man must declare war upon poverty, disease, etc. And war means collective effort. The religion of Unbelief draws Athens ineluctably to statism. Individual rights must be relinquished for the greater collective good.

Thirdly, because the State represents compulsory collectivism—ultimately sanctioned by punishment—it implicitly hollows out all competing voluntary corporates or collectives—such as the family, the church, the school, the business corporation. The bigger and more intractable the problem, the greater the claims of the State and the broader the assertions of its power. Unbelieving individuals, for their part, agreeing that something must be done, inevitably favour political leaders who promise to “do something”.

Finally, we cannot overlook the reality that the Unbelief of Athens is itself a falsehood. It is a lie. The more Athens turns to collectivist solutions and actions, the more it ends up creating bigger and bigger problems. You cannot set out to “run” the world contrary to the Laws of its Creator and hope to succeed. You may wish to defy gravity, but as you leap off the building in assertion of your rights, gravity will have its way. Deny God, and He will break you. Athenian statism, its idolatrous worship of the State and its power, ends up creating and causing horrendous additional unintended evils as a divine punishment for its idolatry and arrogant hubris. The end result—even more State intrusions, demands, controls, taxation, and domination. The circle is vicious.

The course of increasing collectivism can be seen in the West, ever since the Enlightenment. Deliberately turning its back on Jerusalem, the West has pursued its humanist madness for nearly three hundred years. It commenced this post-Christian journey, particularly in the UK and the nascent United States, drawing upon the reservoirs of centuries of Christian tradition. Consequently, at least initially, the manifestation of Athenian Unbelief in those nations was Right Wing—that is, those countries sought to restrict the authority of the State and uphold the rights and freedoms of the individual.

However, the meaning and content of human rights has now been completely stood on its head, so that appeals to human rights are made to justify ever increasing state authority over individual, families, schools, churches, corporations—over all of society. At the beginning of the modern post-Christian era, declarations of human rights were made to restrict the power of the State over the community and the individual. Now, as Athens has become more and more true to itself, declarations of human rights are made to justify the remorseless extension of State power. Homosexual rights, feminist rights, poor rights, child rights, free speech rights, criminal rights, employment rights—rights ad nauseum—have all been appealed to as a reason to extend the power and authority of the State over the community and the individual.

But, if Truth will out in God's world, so will errors, lies, and idolatries. Over a mere ten or so generations the entire Athenian west has been transformed from being made up of relatively free societies into Left Wing societies, where the State is all competent, all powerful, and increasingly intrusive. Athenian Unbelief ends up in Left Wing statism. It cannot help itself. Its lies and idolatries concerning the ultimacy of Man will be lived out.

So, the debate within Athens as to whether Left Wingers or Right Wingers are nicer people is fatuous, to say the least. Within Athens, today's Right Wingers will be tomorrow's Left Wingers. Since Athenian Right Wingers fervently believe in the ultimacy of Man, their will end up bowing to Collective Man, to the State.

Within Jerusalem, the matter operates, as one would expect, in an entirely different paradigm. It turns out the City of Belief is neither Left Wing nor Right Wing. Indeed, those terms have no meaning or reference points in Jerusalem. Within Jerusalem, man is not ultimate. God alone is ultimate, and His glory He will not share with another. Therefore, individual man and collective man not only have their legitimate place, but their roles, powers, responsibilities, and limitations are prescribed and proscribed by the Lord Almighty.

In Jerusalem, individual man and collective man are equally ultimate. One is not more important than the other. Both alike are equally under the domain and rule of the Lord; each has its legitimate spheres of authority, competence and operation. Within those spheres, each is entitled and empowered by the Lord Himself to say to the other—you shall not pass!

So, Athens has given us the Balrog of statism; it is the demon of the deep which the City of Unbelief will always mine until it is released unto Athens own declension and destruction.

Jerusalem, the City of Belief, gives us the community of faith where rights and freedoms are carefully proscribed and balanced by the Lord Himself. Within that City are freedoms, rights, responsibilities, duties, power, and peace. It will go from strength to strength, even as Athens is destroyed by its own Balrog, and a generation arises which declares that it will never again walk in the folly of Unbelief.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

A Credible and Responsible Green Party, Part #2

The Essential Principles

Some time ago, we argued that the responsibilities of taking care of our environment were far too important to be left to the representations and remonstrations of the New Zealand Green Party. That Party lacks credibility.

A respondent laid down a challenge: what would a more responsible green party stand for? It is a fair and provocative challenge. Having given the matter some thought, we would like to lay down our beliefs of what a responsible and serious green party would represent. The easiest way to do this is via negativa—that is, to stipulate what we believe a credible green party would not stand for. Here is Part #2 of the Essential Principles of a Responsible Green Party

6. A credible green movement would not tolerate a cult of apocalyptic catastrophism with respect to the future of the world.

The greenist movements have caused a great deal of suffering and harm, both to humans and to the wider environment, through alarmist calls based on the spectre of world apocalyptic catastrophism. All is going to end. The world as we know it is under threat. We are about to become extinct. These are the siren songs of greenism.

So much damage has resulted. Consider for example, the significant harm that has resulted from the banning of DDT—an early victory of the greenist movement, due largely to Rachel Carson's apocalyptic siren cry in Silent Spring—which has resulted in untold suffering and death. It now turns out that the dangers of DDT were far overstated; once again, better research and more disciplined use of technology would have served the world far better.

We have spoken repeatedly about the cult of global warming, with its attendant apocalyptic catastrophism, which has produced the mania for biofuels—which (in hindsight, regrettably) has been now identified as a crime against humanity.

A credible green movement would eschew all such alarmist and irresponsible scaremongering.

7. A credible green movement would not support nor defend the omni-competence of governments.

Governments usually do more harm than good. The intrusion of government into solving issues usually results in enormously bad and unintended consequences. Biofuels have turned into a crime against humanity, and are destroying millions of souls.

Most greenist movements have sought to achieve their goals and policy programmes through the compulsion of state rules and laws, accessing public taxation revenues.

A responsible green movement would be deeply sceptical of the efficacy of politics and of governments to conserve the environment. It would recognise that more often than not, government action has done far more harm than good, that it has a long track record of environmental and human destruction.

8. A credible green movement would not override private property rights, and would reject all forms of utilitarian ethics.

One of the most sickening aspects of modern greenism is its constant denial of private property rights, and its perpetual assertion of the rights of “corporate” or “abstract” man over individual persons (whether natural or legal). It is the belief that one should be prepared to do evil to individuals in order that good may come to the whole.

Thus, Indians in Brazil are to be prevented from cutting down their rain forests to make way for economic development (plantations, food, crops, and energy) for the greater good of humanity. Greenists quietly choose to forget that once forested Europe, Great Britain and New Zealand only began to sustain development out of poverty and degradation when the forests were cut down. Wood for energy was an important and critical part of economic development. Now, within the walls of relative luxury, the greenists lecture and hector poorer, Third World countries about what they can and cannot do.

Responsible and credible green movements would acknowledge the rights of private persons in every country of the world to develop themselves. Where genuine (and we stress, genuine) environmental degradation occurs as a result, responsible green parties would help explore appropriate methods of stewardship, of balance, of ecological compensation.

9. A credible green movement would not deny the central importance of “trade-offs”.

Nothing in this world is without cost. Nothing in this world is without price. Everything which is done has a cost (actual cost, or in terms of other opportunities forgone). Greenism denies the central importance of trade-offs—or, more to the point, it has its own set of trade-offs which it insists that everyone else must adopt.

For example, consider a situation in which people would either freeze to death or live in miserable circumstances, or a dam could be constructed which would provide hydro-electric power to heat and preserve people, but which would result in the extinction of a rare snail. Responsible green movements would recognise and live with those kinds of trade offs all the time. They would also be very clear in their set of ethical priorities. If there were no other way, the snails would have to be sacrificed for humans.

Responsible green movements would recognise that for every green initiative there is a cost. While they may try to persuade people that the cost was worth paying, they would not minimize or obscure the costs.

10. A credible green movement would not deny the critical importance of the principle of division of labour.

Many greenist organisations end up advocating a kind of naïve self-sufficiency. One gets the idea that in the end they would prefer that people should grow their own food, milk their own cows, bake their own bread, dispose of their own waste and generally revert to micro subsistence. They are determined to be blind toward the human degradation and poverty that results from such naïve ideas, as well as the environmental destruction that occurs when subsistence living is practised on a widespread scale.

A corollary is that many greenists are resolutely opposed to “big business” by which they mean large commercial operations, specialising in mass production of food or anything else. Such corporations are wasteful and environmentally destructive, they tell us.

However, responsible and credible green organisations would not deny, but would advocate the principle of division of labour, of specialisation, and of mass production as ultimately far less environmentally destructive than aurtarkic self-sufficiency. They would acknowledge that a whole world of self-sufficient human beings is not only impossible to achieve, but would actually be hugely wasteful of the earth's resources and enormously destructive of the environment.

If a green party were to be constituted which adopted the above ten principles, it would be likely quickly to gain significant credibility with the population at large. When it advocated action on a particular problem it would be likely to be listened to far more seriously. For one, it would not be constantly crying, Wolf! Wolf! That alone would increase credibility enormously.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Meditation on the Text of the Week

The Inevitability of the New Birth and all Its Consequences

Jesus answered and said to him (Nicodemus), “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. . . . unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” John 3:3
The turning point of human history, its archimedian point, was and is, the normative events of the incarnation of our Lord, His death, resurrection, ascension, and session—or, as in the slightly larger version of the Apostles Creed, He was: "born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day, He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.” These words signify that nothing will ever be the same again. All has changed.

All that went before, under the Old Covenant was but preparatory and a prequel. With these great events, the Lord established the kingdom of God in the creation. This kingdom was, and is, the only way such a kingdom could be: it was and is universal; it was and is not limited to time nor place; it was and is totalitarian in its scope, embracing all of the created world and everything in it. Anything less would not be the kingdom of God, for the Lord is the creator of all things; His kingdom must therefore embrace all things that He has created.

In this text of the week, our Lord asserts that one can neither see nor enter His kingdom unless one is born again by the Spirit of God. The phrase “born again” has unfortunately in our day become temporarily trivialised and devalued. Contrary to the point our Lord was making to Nicodemus, many have come mistakenly to imagine that being “born again” is within the purview and command of man. Man does this or that, engages in this or that religious rite or ritual and he is born again, seeing and entering the kingdom of God.

Our Lord, however, insists that while being born of the Spirit is essential to even seeing, let alone entering the kingdom, it remains an act of God, not of man. He uses the analogy of the wind: you see the effect of the wind, you hear the sound of it, but you can neither command nor control it. It blows where it wills. You do not know where it comes from nor where it is going: “so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)

The essential event of being born again is God's work, not man's—and like all exclusively divine works, it can neither be commanded nor manipulated by man. Once regeneration has taken place, moreover, it cannot be denied, gainsaid, prevented, nor resisted by man. Once regeneration has occurred a person is made to see the kingdom, and is ineluctably and inevitably drawn into it. He therefore repents of his unbelief and sin; he believes upon the Lord Jesus Christ for his salvation; he submits to Christ as his Lord and God; and he begins to live the life of faith and faithfulness.

This is why all human kingdoms, Athenian copycat, parallel imported, cloned, or knock-off kingdoms, are doomed to fail. Because they are not of God, they cannot change the human heart; they cannot effect regeneration. They cannot create a new man. Athenian kingdoms has tried. Oh, how they have tried. And they still try. They will die trying. But failure is inevitable. Only the Creator can re-create. Only the Creator can make a new man.

Athenian fake kingdoms may change outward behaviour for a time. But because man cannot re-create mankind, all Athenian knock-offs eventually revert true to type. Sin, unbelief, and degradation reassert themselves. But the kingdom of God represents a genuine new beginning because the heart of a man is changed. This God-wrought change of heart leads the Christian to say, “Here I stand. I can do no other.” The fear of Him who can destroy both body and soul in Hell vastly outweighs the fear of those who can destroy the body only. In Luther's immortal words:
That Word above all earthly powers--
No thanks to them--abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through Him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill,
God's truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
The kingdom of God is the only kingdom that will last—because it effects total change and transformation from the inside out. But it is also inevitable. Nothing can stop nor gainsay the kingdom becoming the stone which fills the whole earth. Why? Because nothing can prevent the Spirit of God bringing regeneration and new birth to men. Just as a man cannot prevent the wind from blowing, so he cannot prevent men being born again and then entering the kingdom of God.

That is why the man Christ Jesus is the turning point of all human history. That is why nothing will ever be the same again. That is why Jesus declared the (former) ruler of this world to be cast out.

Blessed indeed are all those who have been born again, and as a consequence have seen and entered the kingdom of God.

The Loser Letters #4

The Trouble with Dull Art

In this fourth of the Loser Letters, a former Christian, counsels atheists to stay away from arguments over art, literature, music and culture. Click here to read the latest counsel on how to convert Christians to atheism.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

A Credible and Responsible Green Party, Part #1

The Essential Principles

Some time ago, we argued that the responsibilities of taking care of our environment were far too important to be left to the representations and remonstrations of the New Zealand Green Party. That Party lacks credibility.

A respondent laid down a challenge: what would a more responsible green party stand for? It is a fair and provocative challenge. Having given the matter some thought, we would like to lay down our beliefs of what a responsible and serious green party would represent. The easiest way to do this is via negativa—that is, to stipulate what we believe a credible green party would not stand for.

1. A credible green movement would not subject mankind, nor make mankind vulnerable to the rest of nature.

In New Zealand, with the greenist demand that only renewable sources of energy be exploited, we are now subject to the vagaries of the natural order. As the population grows and the demand for energy increases, going without electricity will increasingly become the norm.

Renewable sources of energy are finite and limited, in the sense that only so much wind blows in any given time period; only so much rain falls. There is a finite quantum of energy which can be developed from these renewable sources; as the demand for energy increases, eventually they will run out. Moreover, not only are renewable energy sources finite, they are also unpredictable and, more often than not, beyond our control to command. If the wind does not blow, nor the rains fall, we run short of power.

In African countries, in a continent with immense natural resources, the greenist movement has worked to restrict the exploitation of those resources for the generation of electricity. In so doing, the greenist movement (from the comfort of its own padded armchair, in its air-conditioned home) would condemn many poor, vulnerable people to a world without electricity. They insist that, for the greater good, these people must be prepared to sacrifice themselves to a life of disease ridden poverty for the greater good of mankind. They must remain vulnerable to, and subject, to the rest of the natural order.

A creditable green party would completely reject all such notions.

2. A credible green movement would neither deny nor decry the duty and responsibility of man to rule over the rest of nature, subdue it, and develop it.

To be credible, a green party must acknowledge and celebrate the regnant place of man within the realm of nature. Man has a duty to rule over, subdue, and develop the rest of nature. To the extent that any green movement denies the unique place and special responsibilities of man within nature, to that extent it is anti-man and anti-Christian.

A credible green movement will seize upon, and celebrate, the duty and responsibility of man to rule over the creation. It will espouse the evil of nature left untended and undeveloped. It will acknowledge that many species have been lost to the world without human involvement; it will acknowledge that much destruction of landscapes has occurred without any human involvement. It will articulate that some of the most destructive effects upon nature occur if men do not get involved, to husband, manage, and control.

It will espouse prudent and responsible development, and uphold conservation rather than an anti-developmental bias.

3. A credible green movement would neither be irrational nor emotive over technological advances and developments.

The NZ Green Party is both rationalistic and consequently irrational in its approach to technology. A property green movement would be scientifically rational and neutral to all technologies, and would not proscribe any. For example, nuclear energy would not be precluded from the outset.

It would not ban drilling and developing oil fields, since proper management has proved that oil exploitation will not result in destruction of the environment. An example, is that during the terrible hurricane season in which Katrina struck, not one oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico leaked or spilled oil. Moreover it is now demonstrably true that oil rigs situated in the ocean greatly enhance marine life.

Moreover a credible green party would not ban genetic engineering from the outset. It would welcome it, and argue for its application with discriminate care and appropriate testing and safeguards.

4. A credible green movement would not play off technology against nature.

The greenist movement repeatedly sets up a dichotomy between nature and technology or economic growth. A credible green movement would completely reject that dichotomy. It would insist instead that a growing blade of grass and a slab of concrete are both alike natural. Both are part of the natural order. Both are part of the creation. Both are subjected to exactly the same natural laws. Both are part of God's created world

All technological developments are part of Nature, part of the natural order. Not all are equally beneficial or helpful. Some developments are destructive; others constructive. But all alike are natural and must be celebrated as such, if a green movement is to have any credibility.

5. A credible green movement would not accept that the finitude or limited nature of resources restricts economic growth or development.

A credible green movement would be knowledgeable about economic history and human development. It would recognise that technological developments have meant that in practical terms there is no limit to natural resources, since man is not limited in his ability to continue to discover the potentiality of the creation, and develop marvelous applications of it—such is the glory of the creation as made out of nothing by the Living God.

A credible green movement would not use arguments of scarcity of resources to restrict economic development. Rather it would call for constant pure and applied research to break though whatever limitations current resources are applying. For example, the world has a limited supply of copper. The technology which required copper lines to transmit electricity meant that the supply of electricity to every person in the globe would have exhausted the world's supply of copper. However, in time, research discovered the conductive properties of silica, which is increasingly making copper redundant as an electrical conductor. Last time we checked, there was no shortage of silica in the world.

Old photographic technology was threatening to consume much of the world's supply of silver. Now photographic film has been consigned to the “dark ages” through the development of digital photography.

When environmental problems and damage emerges, the first response of a credible green movement would not be to restrict and ban. It would be to call for more research and development, for more sophisticated technologies and abilities that would reduce, alleviate, or prevent the problem. For example, if burning coal puts poisonous chemicals into the atmosphere, the first and most insistent response of a credible green movement would be for research into technologies that would give us clean emissions when coal was fired. It would not be to ban coal.

To be continued . . .