Saturday, 31 October 2009

More on Collision!

The Deeper Significance of the Hitchens vs Wilson Debates

We have posted several times on the forthcoming release of the DVD, Collision! which is available exclusively from Amazon. The protagonists are currently engaged in promotional activity for the release, including profiles on the Huffington Post, the Laura Ingraham radio show, and Fox News.

David L. Bahnsen recently posted an excellent review on his blogsite. It puts the whole exercise in its proper theological and ecclesiastical context. He points out that debates with unbelievers, if properly conducted, are always to be debates over faith, not my argument versus your argument as some sort of prelude to faith. He commends Douglas Wilson for hitting this nail upon the head consistently and repeatedly. He also has some kind things to say about Christopher Hitchens, yet with a yearning and longing for the man's soul that is biblically faithful and honouring to our Saviour, Who, we recall, wept over the doomed City of Peace.

Collision Highlights the Great Antithesis: A DVD Worth Having

By DLB, on October 25, 2009

The about-to-be released DVD, Collision, is an important work that I heartily commend. The immensely talented and passionate Darren Doane has directed a gripping piece highlighting the debate over God’s existence between Pastor Doug Wilson of Moscow, Idaho and the well-known secular writer, Christopher Hitchens. The video is gripping, the participants are most-compelling, the editing is fantastic, and most importantly, the great divide in the debate over God’s existence is spendidly exposed.

Nearly twenty-five years ago my late father, Dr. Greg Bahnsen, debated the highly acclaimed atheist scholar, Dr. Gordon Stein, at the University of California in Irvine. The debate caused shockwaves then, and continues to stir interest today, probably selling more MP3’s, CD’s, and tapes over the years than all of my father’s work put together. And for good reason: it is a simply stunning apologetic for the Christian faith from an immensely qualified philosophical intellect. And at the risk of sounding like a biased son, I am rather certain it is the best defense of the faith I have ever heard.

Now, over a decade after my father’s passing at the age of 47, “popular atheism” staged a comeback, or maybe a fresh rally altogether. Hitchens’ own book God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, became a New York Times bestseller, and other atheist scholars such as Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins enjoyed a few minutes of fame themselves, touring the world protesting the idea of a divine creator, writing a few books, and building a bit of a following around college campuses where their secular atheism became a sort of biological and philosophical defense for the rank hedonism already being played out seven nights a week in the campus dormitories. Of the three or four players in this resurgence of atheism, Hitchens is by far the most capable, particularly if one defines capable in terms of rhetorical skills. He is a profoundly talented writer, and he is just smug enough in his oral presentations that he comes off persuasively and impressively. Hitchens has been on a torrid tour schedule over the last few years, usually finding some unsuspecting stooge that he is all too happy to carve up in front of a perplexed audience wherein the worldview of Christianity is hardly presented at all, and whatever version of Christianity’s defense that is presented is capably handled by Hitchens either via his superior intellect, or at least his superior rhetorical wit. Some foes have been more capable than others (Dinesh D’Souza comes to mind), but Hitchens has not been forced to deal with the epistemological assumptions of his worldview. Wilson takes him to task in this series of discussions and debates that Collision captures, choosing to focus on Hitchens’ basis (or lack thereof) for a belief in morality. Bahnsen chose the Christian worldview’s explanation and basis in logic when he debated Stein, but the underlying point (whether it be science, logic, or morality) is this: the atheist is forced to borrow from the Christian worldview when they deny the Christian worldview. The atheist lacks the foundation necessary to make truth claims, whereas the tenets of the Christian worldview account for the laws of logic, and account for standards in ethics.

I can not put into words how pleased I am to see Doug Wilson having taken on this task with Christopher Hitchens. The DVD documentary gives Wilson ample opportunity to concede the whole thesis of Christianity, as so many self-proclaimed apologists often do. “You have your reason; I have my reason; and I think my enlightened reason outperforms your enlightened reason, therefore I am a Christian.” Wilson avoids this perverse attempt at apologetics at all costs, and provides a splendid defense of the faith within us without ever abandoning the operative word: faith. He upholds a cogent defense of the Christian worldview, and poses questions to Hitchens that are never addressed satisfactorily. The emperor has no clothes, and as Wilson says, John Lennon’s dream laid out in the song Imagine has horrfiying implications (both metaphysically and ethically). Hitchens never takes the full bait of Wilson’s reductio ad absurdum, attempting to the very end to justify a basis for morality founded in personal whims and fancies (though the scene at the Washington D.C. pub seems to capture Hitchens admitting to an audience member during Q&A that there is no basis for cosmic justice).

I find Hitchens to be a deeply troubled man, and I have been reading his political writings as long as I can remember. I can not think of a single person on the planet that I agree with as passionately as I do when he is right, and disagree with as passionately as I do when he is wrong. But the story of Christopher Hitchens is a tragedy, no matter how you look at it. He is a haunted soul, who wears his disdain for God on his sleeve. Telling the stories of his fundamentalist past on tape is powerful stuff, and suffice it to say, it serves as a sort of window to where his “anti-theism” comes from. I have rarely taken popular atheism very seriously. The analogy I use is one of anti-Santa Clausism (though the tooth fairy works as well). I do not believe there is a real life Santa Claus (I hope my kids are not reading this), but I spend very little time trying to talk people out of it who do believe in such. The reality is that if one really believed that theism was merely a fantasy life concocted up by primitive pre-modern people who lacked the enlightenment tools of science and reason to know better, it hardly seems like a very rewarding use of one’s time to focus on it day and night. Atheists have never had a belief problem, because if they did, they would never talk about it. They have a faith problem. They have an obedience problem. And Hitchens makes this unbelievably clear throughout Collision. In fact, his disdain for the doctrine of redemption expressed in the King’s College debate is the furthest thing from an epistemological objection; it is purely theological, and it is not at all uncommon. Hitchens does not want to address the demons that haunt him, and he is rather remarkably gifted at masking those things through some stunningly effective conventions. He is an engaging individual, and is quite superficially respectful to those whom he encounters that he disagrees with (particularly if he deems them to be intellectually capable people).

But what Hitchens will not stand for, and what most vigilant atheists will not stand for, is someone- anyone -telling them that they need a redeemer. The message of the cross is a scandalous message, and when Christians attempt to kick the ladder down once they have gotten to the top of the building, it is disheartening to see. Doug Wilson engages this dialogue with Christopher Hitchens with the reliance on faith, juxtaposed with reason and conviction, sorely lacking in Christian apologetics today. I do not believe anyone watching the DVD will have their mind changed in the great subject of God’s existence, and I do not believe anyone has had their mind changed in the last 25 years from listening to the Bahnsen/Stein debate either. But what I do believe is this: to proclaim a defense of theism without a proclamation of the gospel is a tragedy, and when I watch Christopher Hitchens, I have seen enough tragedies for one night, thank you very much. Wilson should be commended for not doubling up on the tragedy, and in fact, faithfully working to extinguish it.

Christopher Hitchens is a talented and special individual. Christendom could use him. But Doug Wilson has accomplished a Bahnsenian feat in not compromising the essence of our faith in his attempts to persuade Hitchens of its value. I could not possibly mean that as a bigger compliment than I do.

Find Collisionand see it. Give it out to other people. Discuss it with your friends. And when you are done, remember that Christianity is a religion of trust and obedience. Atheism is a religion of fear and escape. May Christopher Hitchens find the God who provides a peace that surpasses all understanding. And may Doug Wilson continue on with the task of defending the Christian worldview. As Van Til taught us, “In thy light, shall we see light” (and even he borrowed it straight from King David).


Just Asking . . .

It's Snowing Everywhere, Man

When was the last time the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere were being snowed upon at the same time, apart from at the poles?

A storm has just dumped snow on the Rockies and surrounding flatlands.

The NZ Met Service has just issued the following warning:
Snow is falling on the road this morning. Between 6am and midday Thursday about 5 to 8cm snow is expected to accumulate on the highest parts of the road with lighter falls down to about 600 metres. Snow showers should become light and intermittent from about midday Thursday.
Just asking . . .

Offensive Exclusivity

The Spirit of Rome Lives On

A recent editorial in US Today lifted the covers on American religiosity. The specific topic of the moment was criticism of Christian football "stars" who take advantage of their fame to promote the Name and claims of King Jesus. The piece was written by Tom Krattenmaker, possibly insincerely or with hidden motives, since he has just come out with a new book entitled Onward Christian Athletes. Maybe the intention of the editorial was self-promotion, but even if so, that is not germane to the argument itself.

Krattenmaker argues that these Christian sportspeople blaspheme (our term) established religion in America. "What?" we hear you ask. The US Constitution forbids the establishment of religion. True. But nevertheless and notwithstanding, at least in Krattenmaker's mental frame, there is an established religion in the US. It is the religion identified by the polls and is believed upon by the majority of US citizens:
According to a December 2008 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion in Public Life, 65% of American Christians believe that many religions can lead to eternal life. Our pluralism is a defining and positive reality of American life — but not one that is much valued by those who define the faith coursing through the veins of sports culture.
Sixty-five percent of professing Christians believe that many religions lead to eternal life. Add that to the rest of the non-Christian population--and bingo, you have one very established religion: pluralism, the "defining and positive reality of American life." Krattenmaker's beef with these Christian football players is not that they are professing Christians, but that they profess an exclusive religion: Christ alone is the Saviour. This belief, which they do not hesitate to proclaim, means that they also believe everyone else is wrong. Yup. Reasoning good so far. But, says Krattenmaker, this has no place in a "civic" team that represents a plurality of beliefs. His view is that because people of many different beliefs and faiths support a particular team, all the players on the team must support and promote the principles of the religion of pluralism.
But should we be pleased that the civic resource known as "our team" — a resource supported by the diverse whole through our ticket-buying, game-watching and tax-paying — is being leveraged by a one-truth evangelical campaign that has little appreciation for the beliefs of the rest of us?
Wow--let's get this straight. Because people with many diverse views support or cheer or watch or pay for (via taxation) a sports team, all the members and staff and employees of that team must reflect and espouse the principles of the established religion of pluralism--the equal ultimacy of all beliefs. So much for liberty of conscience and freedom of religion.

Ancient Rome was a religiously tolerant society. Polytheism always tends to a particular kind of tolerance. You believe in Zeus; and you believe in tarot cards; and you believe in secular humanism. All good for all of you. But such diversities and conflicting views can only cohere together if there is a unifying principle. In Rome it was the emperor, and emperor worship. You could believe whatever you wanted provided you acknowledged the suzerain overlordship of the Emperor, and burned incense to him. But, if not, then you were outside civilisation, the pax Romana. By definition, all religions which espoused one deity, and one only (unless it were the Emperor) were implicitly subversive of Rome itself.

Fast forward to Krattenmaker's version of the United States. You can believe whatever you like as long as you acknowledge and do obeisance to the established principles of religious pluralism. But, for this author, the overlordship of Emperor Pluralismo means any religion which is not built upon, and espouses the equal ultimacy of all beliefs is beyond the pale and blasphemes the higher god of Pluralism.

It was the profession and proclamations of exclusivity that made Judaism and Christianity so offensive to Rome. Both were persecuted mercilessly when opportunity permitted.

So, to recap: the Christian faith is universally exclusive. Peter in Acts 4:12 declares that there simply is no other Name in heaven or earth by which men may be saved. Paul, with the full authority of Christ Himself, declares that there is only One mediator between God and man--the man Christ Jesus (I Timothy 2:5). So far, the Christian NFL players are right on the money. But, there is another, equally important sense in which the Lord Jesus Christ is not exclusive at all. Whosoever wishes and desires may come to Him to receive mercy and eternal life (John 6:37). This is universally valid across all continents, times, people groups, classes, and nations. All humanity is included.

Either Tom Krattenmaker (and his disciples) speak the truth and that the American established religion is true and that all beliefs are equally ultimate, provided each burns incense to pluralism itself; or Jesus Christ is Lord of all and all other religions and "isms" are deceptive, misleading, and ultimately false. Last time we checked, Tom had not been installed by God Almighty as the Lord of the heavens and the earth. So, that settles that.

But facetious comments aside, let none be in doubt that Krattenmaker's established religion is both destructive and harmful, whereas the faith of the Christian NFL players is warm and hospitable. You, too, sir may come and receive eternal life. He will never cast you out, if you come.



Friday, 30 October 2009

Deceitful Science, Part II

Global Warming Has Become an Expensive Urban Legend

Dr Roy Spencer is a climate scientist researching at the University of Alabama. He is one of the leading world authorities on satellite sourced global temperature data, and has put forward some provocative theories on how the earth's climate actually works.

Here is is take on the pseudo-scientific foundations of Global Warming theorists.

An Expensive Urban Legend
October 24th, 2009 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

About.com describes an “urban legend” as an apocryphal (of questionable authenticity), secondhand story, told as true and just plausible enough to be believed, about some horrific…series of events….it’s likely to be framed as a cautionary tale. Whether factual or not, an urban legend is meant to be believed. In lieu of evidence, however, the teller of an urban legend is apt to rely on skillful storytelling and reference to putatively trustworthy sources.

I contend that the belief in human-caused global warming as a dangerous event, either now or in the future, has most of the characteristics of an urban legend. Like other urban legends, it is based upon an element of truth. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas whose concentration in the atmosphere is increasing, and since greenhouse gases warm the lower atmosphere, more CO2 can be expected, at least theoretically, to result in some level of warming.

But skillful storytelling has elevated the danger from a theoretical one to one of near-certainty. The actual scientific basis for the plausible hypothesis that humans could be responsible for most recent warming is contained in the cautious scientific language of many scientific papers. Unfortunately, most of the uncertainties and caveats are then minimized with artfully designed prose contained in the Summary for Policymakers (SP) portion of the report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This Summary was clearly meant to instill maximum alarm from a minimum amount of direct evidence.

Next, politicians seized upon the SP, further simplifying and extrapolating its claims to the level of a “climate crisis”. Other politicians embellished the tale even more by claiming they “saw” global warming in Greenland as if it was a sighting of Sasquatch, or that they felt it when they fly in airplanes.

Just as the tales of marauding colonies of alligators living in New York City sewers are based upon some kernel of truth, so too is the science behind anthropogenic global warming. But there is a big difference between reports of people finding pet alligators that have escaped their owners, versus city workers having their limbs torn off by roving colonies of subterranean monsters.

In the case of global warming, the “putatively trustworthy sources” would be the consensus of the world’s scientists. The scientific consensus, after all, says that global warming is…is what? Is happening? Is severe? Is manmade? Is going to burn the Earth up if we do not act? It turns out that those who claim consensus either do not explicitly state what that consensus is about, or they make up something that supports their preconceived notions.

If the consensus is that the presence of humans on Earth has some influence on the climate system, then I would have to even include myself in that consensus. After all, the same thing can be said of the presence of trees on Earth, and hopefully we have at least the same rights as trees do. But too often the consensus is some vague, fill-in-the-blank, implied assumption where the definition of “climate change” includes the phrase “humans are evil”.

It is a peculiar development that scientific truth is now decided through voting. A relatively recent survey of climate scientists who do climate research found that 97.4% agreed that humans have a “significant” effect on climate. But the way the survey question was phrased borders on meaninglessness. To a scientist, “significant” often means non-zero. The survey results would have been quite different if the question was, “Do you believe that natural cycles in the climate system have been sufficiently researched to exclude them as a potential cause of most of our recent warming?”

And it is also a good bet that 100% of those scientists surveyed were funded by the government only after they submitted research proposals which implicitly or explicitly stated they believed in anthropogenic global warming to begin with. If you submit a research proposal to look for alternative explanations for global warming (say, natural climate cycles), it is virtually guaranteed you will not get funded. Is it any wonder that scientists who are required to accept the current scientific orthodoxy in order to receive continued funding, then later agree with that orthodoxy when surveyed? Well, duh.

In my experience, the public has the mistaken impression that a lot of climate research has gone into the search for alternative explanations for warming. They are astounded when I tell them that virtually no research has been performed into the possibility that warming is just part of a natural cycle generated within the climate system itself.

Too often the consensus is implied to be that global warming is so serious that we must do something now in the form of public policy to avert global catastrophe. What? You don’t believe that there are alligators in New York City sewer system? How can you be so unconcerned about the welfare of city workers that have to risk their lives by going down there every day? What are you, some kind of Holocaust-denying, Neanderthal flat-Earther?

It makes complete sense that in this modern era of scientific advances and inventions that we would so readily embrace a compelling tale of global catastrophe resulting from our own excesses. It’s not a new genre of storytelling, of course, as there were many B-movies in the 1950s whose horror themes were influenced by scientists’ development of the atomic bomb.

Our modern equivalent is the 2004 movie, “Day After Tomorrow”, in which all kinds of physically impossible climatic events occur in a matter of days. In one scene, super-cold stratospheric air descends to the Earth’s surface, instantly freezing everything in its path. The meteorological truth, however, is just the opposite. If you were to bring stratospheric air down to the surface, heating by compression would make it warmer than the surrounding air, not colder.

I’m sure it is just coincidence that “Day After Tomorrow” was directed by Roland Emmerich, who also directed the 1996 movie “Independence Day,” in which an alien invasion nearly exterminates humanity. After all, what’s the difference? Aliens purposely killing off humans, or humans accidentally killing off humans? Either way, we all die.

But a global warming catastrophe is so much more believable. After all, climate change does happen, right? So why not claim that ALL climate change is now the result of human activity? And while we are at it, let’s re-write climate history so that we get rid of the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice age, with a new ingenious hockey stick-shaped reconstruction of past temperatures that makes it look like climate never changed until the 20th Century? How cool would that be?

The IPCC thought it was way cool…until it was debunked, after which it was quietly downgraded in the IPCC reports from the poster child for anthropogenic global warming, to one possible interpretation of past climate.

And let’s even go further and suppose that the climate system is so precariously balanced that our injection of a little bit of that evil plant food, carbon dioxide, pushes our world over the edge, past all kinds of imaginary tipping points, with the Greenland ice sheet melting away, and swarms of earthquakes being the price of our indiscretions.

In December, hundreds of bureaucrats from around the world will once again assemble, this time in Copenhagen, in their attempts to forge a new international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. And as has been the case with every other UN meeting of its type, the participants simply assume that the urban legend is true. Indeed, these politicians and governmental representatives need it to be true. Their careers and political power now depend upon it.

And the fact that they hold their meetings in all of the best tourist destinations in the world, enjoying the finest exotic foods, suggests that they do not expect to ever have to be personally inconvenienced by whatever restrictions they try to impose on the rest of humanity.

If you present these people with evidence that the global warming crisis might well be a false alarm, you are rewarded with hostility and insults, rather than expressions of relief. The same can be said for most lay believers of the urban legend. I say “most” because I once encountered a true believer who said he hoped my research into the possibility that climate change is mostly natural will eventually be proved correct.

Unfortunately, just as we are irresistibly drawn to disasters – either real ones on the evening news, or ones we pay to watch in movie theaters – the urban legend of a climate crisis will persist, being believed by those whose politics and worldviews depend upon it. Only when they finally realize what a new treaty will cost them in loss of freedoms and standard of living will those who oppose our continuing use of carbon-based energy begin to lose their religion.


Atheists Make Lousy Atheists

Dawkins's Atheist Hat Blows Off

Now here is a real hoot. Richard Dawkins has produced a splenetic outburst in the Washington Post against the invitation by the Roman Catholic Church to high church Anglicans to rejoin with the Roman denomination.

It seems that Richie Rich is offended by the alleged authoritarianism of the Roman Catholic denomination. (Now recall that this is coming from a gentleman who has called for removing children forcibly from the homes of religious parents!) His indictment of the Roman Catholic Church contains the following accusations delivered in high dudgeon:
What major institution most deserves the title of greatest force for evil in the world? In a field of stiff competition, the Roman Catholic Church is surely up there among the leaders. The Anglican church has at least a few shreds of decency, traces of kindness and humanity with which Jesus himself might have connected, however tenuously: a generosity of spirit, of respect for women, and of Christ-like compassion for the less fortunate. The Anglican church does not cleave to the dotty idea that a priest, by blessing bread and wine, can transform it literally into a cannibal feast; nor to the nastier idea that possession of testicles is an essential qualification to perform the rite. It does not send its missionaries out to tell deliberate lies to AIDS-weakened Africans, about the alleged ineffectiveness of condoms in protecting against HIV. Whether one agrees with him or not, there is a saintly quality in the Archbishop of Canterbury, a benignity of countenance, a well-meaning sincerity. How does Pope Ratzinger measure up? The comparison is almost embarrassing.
What is amusing in this little tirade is the revelation of the Dawkins moral compass. It seems that true morality and high ethics roughly corresponds to effete, learned, upper-class , respectable
English morality. Gentlemanly behaviour (as exhibited by the Anglican leader, Archbishop Rowan is laudable, he tells us. Pro-homosexuality and feminism advocated by Rowan represent "decency" and "kindness" and the kind of thing that Jesus of Nazareth might have supported.

What an complete hypocrite! The only deserving response to Dawkins's outrage is to call it for what it is: humbug, and pretentious humbug at that. Like all the militant materialistic evolutionist atheists, Dawkins dons his atheism garb when it pleases him, and dumps it when it does not. Until he proves that he is a real, consistent, and serious atheist, he has no street cred at all.

OK, so let's put on Dawkins's atheist tweed hat for a moment. Whatever a man believes, whatever values he espouses, whatever religion or ideology he professes must be the product of a cluster of molecules upon which brute chance has acted. Under Dawkins's hat, there is nothing else. Therefore, every view and belief is equally valid, which is to say that none are valid in the sense of being truthful or meaningful or rational, or sensible, or just, or right. Views just are, in the same way that the sun and the moon just are. Anti-homosexuality is equally valid as pro-homosexuality, under Dawkins' atheist hat. Both alike are equally and totally the product of stochasticity acting upon matter. To adopt one particular ethical, social, or moral stance, and criticise the opposite if it were not equally valid or just as authentic or equally authoritative is empty and vainglorious cant. Worse, it is hypocritical and deceitful and disingenuous.

But when it comes to the cluster of beliefs which Dawkins regards as part of advanced evolved civilisation (which strangely seems to co-incide with what is currently fashionable in elite British academia) suddenly Richie Rich wants to take off his hat and propound, declaim, and protest at the non-conformers as if there were moral and ethical meta-absolutes in the world.

At the height of the British Empire a cynic remarked that within the realms of that Empire, whatever else God might be, it was generally agreed that He looked and acted and thought remarkably like an Englishman. Which was to allege, of course, that Victorian Christianity was deeply and profoundly synthesised with humanistic idolatry.

The same saw holds for our esteemed professor of biology. Wherever the works of true atheism are found in the world, they seem to look remarkably like a left-wing, liberal, modernist, upper-class Englishman. Which is to say, of course, that the atheism of Richard Dawkins is a disingenuous crock. He either must either eschew the meta-validity of his liberal socio-political lexicon and stop criticising contrary beliefs, or his atheism is a self-deception. We vote for the latter.

Your move, old chap.

HatTip: Lucia Maria

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Deceitful Science, Part I

The Pseudo-Science of Global Warming

Bob Carter was one of the four independent climate scientists who, at Australian Senator Fielding’s request, undertook a due diligence audit of the global warming advice being provided to Climate Minister Penny Wong by her Department. (The three other scientists were David Evans, Stewart Franks and Bill Kininmonth.)

Quadrant Online recently carried a piece by Carter on the dubious scientific foundations of anthropogenic global warming. (Part II will carry an article along similar lines by Dr Roy Spencer.) Carter helps expose the global warming hysteria as one of the biggest hoaxes in living memory.

Doomed Planet

“Today’s debate about global warming is essentially a debate about freedom. The environmentalists would like to mastermind each and every possible (and impossible) aspect of our lives.”

Vaclav Klaus
Blue Planet in Green Shackles

The science of deceit

by Bob Carter

October 26, 2009

Science is about simplicity

A well-accepted aphorism about science, in the context of difference of opinion between two points of view, is “Madam, you are entitled to your own interpretation, but not to your own facts”.

The world stoker of the fires of global warming alarmism, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), cleverly suborns this dictum in two ways.

First, the IPCC accepts advice from influential groups of scientists who treat the data that underpins their published climate interpretations (collected, of course, using public research funds) as their own private property, and refuse to release it to other scientists.

Thus, confronted in 1996 with a request that he provide a U.S. peer-review referee with a copy of the data that underpinned a research paper that he had submitted, U.K. Hadley Climate Research Centre scientist Tom Wigley responded:

First, it is entirely unnecessary to have original “raw” data in order to review a scientific document. I know of no case at all in which such data were required by or provided to a referee ….. Second, while the data in question [model output from the U.K. Hadley Centre’s climate model] were generated using taxpayer money, this was U.K. taxpayer money. U.S. scientists therefore have no a priori right to such data. Furthermore, these data belong to individual scientists who produced them, not to the IPCC, and it is up to those scientists to decide who they give their data to.

In the face of such attitudes, which treat the established mores of scientific trust and method with contempt, it is scarcely surprising that it took Canadian statistics expert Steve McIntyre many years to get the primary data released that was used by another Hadley Centre scientist, Keith Briffa, in his published tree-ring reconstructions of past temperature from the Urals region, northern hemisphere. When he finally forced the release of the relevant data, McIntyre quickly proceeded to slay a second climate hockey-stick dragon which - like the first such beast fashioned by U.S. scientist Michael Mann, and widely promulgated by the IPCC – turned out to be based on faulty statistical methodology . . .

A variant on this, along “the dog ate my homework” path, also involves the Hadley Centre – which is the primary science provider of global temperature statistics to the IPCC. Faced with requests from outside scientists for the provision of the raw temperature data so that scientific audit checks could be undertaken, Hadley’s Phil Jones recently asserted that parts of the raw data used to reconstruct their global temperature curve for the period before about 1980 cannot be provided to outsiders because it has been lost or destroyed. In other words, it is now impossible to conduct an independent audit of the Hadley temperature curve for 1860-2008, on which the IPCC has based an important part of its alarmist global warming advice.

So much for data perversions. The second type of common distortion of normal scientific practice by the IPCC and its supporters concerns not data but hypotheses – which IPCC likes to define in its own way to suit its own ends. This attitude often manifests itself in the fashion expressed in a recent letter sent to me, viz:

Proponents of AGW claim that their theory is supported by peer reviewed literature whilst the case against it is not. This is a very effective argument and, although Solomon's book The Deniers goes some way to counter it, I am not aware of an equally effective refutation. . . .

In an Australian variation of this, Greg Combet, assistant to climate Minister Penny Wong, earlier this year asserted with blatant inaccuracy that “we use only peer reviewed science and our opposition doesn’t”. Other IPCC sycophants phrase it slightly differently, such as: "if you climate sceptics had a scientific point of view it would have been published in reputable, peer-reviewed journals".

Statements such as these all reflect a fundamental lack of understanding about the way that science works. They also exemplify the way in which climate alarmists always seek to frame the debate in ways that delivers them control, especially by clever choice of language (clean energy; climate change instead of global warming; carbon dioxide is a pollutant instead of a beneficial trace gas, etc.), or, in this case, by framing a hypothesis for testing that suits their political ends rather than Science’s ends.

If you accept at face value questions and comments like the ones enumerated above, you fall into a carefully laid climate alarmist trap. For the question “why are there no papers in peer-reviewed journals that disprove the hypothesis of dangerous human-caused global warming” is predicated, as is all related IPCC writing, on faulty science logic; specifically, it erects a wrong null hypothesis.

Scientists erect hypotheses to test based upon the fundamental science assumption of parsimony, or simplicity, sometimes grandly referred to as Occam’s Razor. That is to say, in seeking to explain matters of observation or experiment, a primary underlying principle is that the simplest explanation be sought; extraneous or complicating factors of interpretation, such as “extraterrestrials did it”, are only invoked when substantive evidence exists for such a complication.

Concerning the climate change that we observe around us today – which, importantly, is occurring at similar rates and magnitudes to that known to have occurred throughout the historical and geological past - the simplest (and therefore null) hypothesis, is that "the climate change observed today is natural unless and until evidence accrues otherwise".

In regard to which, first, no such evidence has emerged. And, second, like any null hypothesis, that about modern climate change is there to be tested, as it has been. There are literally tens of thousands of peer-reviewed papers in major scientific journals that contain observations, data, experiments and theoretical reasoning that are consistent with the null hypothesis, which has therefore yet to be falsified (but, of course, one day might be).

The onus is therefore on Penny Wong and her scientists to provide some “evidence otherwise”. To give a clue how hard that task is, note that since 1988 (when the IPCC was created) western nations have spent more than $100 billion, and employed thousands of scientists, in attempts to measure the human signal in the global temperature record. The search has failed. Though no scientist doubts that humans influence climate at local level - causing both warmings (urban heat island effect) and coolings (land-use changes) - no definitive evidence has yet been discovered that a human influence is measurable, let alone dangerous, at global level. Rather, the human signal is lost in the noise of natural climate variation.

That the correct null hypothesis is the simplest hypothesis is, of course, no reason why other more complex hypotheses cannot be erected for testing. For instance, should you wish to test (as the IPCC should) the idea that "human carbon dioxide emissions are causing dangerous global warming", then there are several ways that that can be done.

The result, long ago, has been the falsification of the dangerous human-caused warming hypothesis. Failed tests include: that global cooling has occurred since 1998 despite an increase in carbon dioxide of 5%; the lack of detailed correlation between the carbon dioxide and temperature records over the last 100 years; consideration of cause and effect timing of past carbon dioxide and temperature levels in ice core records; the absence of the model-predicted temperature hotspot high in the tropical troposphere; the low sensitivity of climate to carbon dioxide forcing as judged against empirical tests; and the demonstrable failure of computer GCMs to predict future climate.

These matters, and that the dangerous warming hypothesis fails numerous empirical tests, have been described in many places. Such writings, whether in refereed journals or not, are simply disparaged or ignored by those who wish to pursue the alarmist IPCC line.

It bears repeating that the onus is on Minister Wong, or her advisory IPCC scientists, to provide any evidence that the null hypothesis regarding modern climate change is false. Because she cannot do so, the clever trick is used of inverting the null hypothesis to demand that climate rationalist scientists demonstrate that human-cased global warming is not occurring.

Perhaps none of this would matter particularly were we dealing only with a squabble amongst scientists. But when ministers in our governments write, as did the Queensland Minister for Climate Change recently, that “The Queensland Government, along with the Australian Government and governments around the world, supports the findings of the IPCC”, it becomes a critical matter of necessity to understand that, in addition to being political in the first place, IPCC advice is also based upon faulty, indeed manipulative, science practice.

As independent scientific advisors to Senator Fielding have shown, the IPCC-derived science advice that the Australian Government is using as the basis for its carbon dioxide tax legislation is utterly flawed. This finding has yet to be rebutted.

Senators who vote for the second version of the misbegotten and misnamed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme bill will be supporting strongly harmful legislation that is based upon faulty science. Thereby, they will be abandoning their duty of care for the welfare of the Australian people.


Labour and ACC

Is Labour Being Clever or Dumb?

Phil Goff, leader of the Labour Party, has adopted a Churchillian stance, sans cigar, pronouncing that Labour would die in the ditch to maintain the Accident Compensation Commission as a state monopoly. If the current government allowed private insurance companies to enter the market to provide insurance cover against accidents as an alternative to the present state monopoly an incoming Labour government would reverse it again--as they have done once already.

The question is begged as to why. There are plenty of areas where apparently it is apparently perfectly acceptable to Labour to have the State competing against private non-state entities for the provision of services. Health and medicine is one. Education is another. Vehicle testing is a third. Banking is a fourth. And, postal services. No dying in ditches there.

The Labour stance can be seen as being motivated by dumbness or by astute calculation. Which is it? The "dumb" version would paint Labour as casting around for anything which they hope would find resonance with the hearts of voters. Hence, the constant reference to removing the ACC monopoly as privatisation. Their political antennae, rightly or wrongly, tell them that the public is opposed to the State selling off assets: therefore, confuse competition with privatisation (the public won't discern the difference) and bingo, they will get "cut through" to the voters.

This is dumb, not just because if the public has to choose between massive state debt versus privatisation, they will likely prefer to see the family silver sold off, and fast. It's something that every wage and salary earner understands and faces constantly. They intuitively understand it on the wider, national scene. But it is also dumb because would also show Labour up to be political opportunists who would prostitute themselves without principle to anything that would have appeal. It puts them in the Winston Peter's category of politician.

So, it is possible that Labour is just dumb. But, then again, maybe not. Maybe they are being very astute. It is possible they understand that opening up the ACC to competition actually means the end of the ACC in the long run. It is possible they have discerned that competition represents a terminal disease for the ACC. Since they are socialists and believe in the superiority of a state commanded and controlled economy, they oppose opening up the ACC to competition in principle, regardless of political considerations.

If so, they would be right. Opening up the ACC to competition is a death knell for the ACC as a state entity--eventually. Why? Well, insurance relies on actuarial averages. Without the existence of such statistical averages, insurance becomes a ponzi scheme. Private competitors will commence by focusing on the "good risks"--as they should, because that is where the greater margins lie. It is where they will be able to price keenly. If there are "good" employers, with a very low accident record, with a very low risk employee activity, and private insurers can target them and get enough of them as client accounts, they will be able to charge them lower premiums than the current ACC levy.

Private competitors will be able to pick the jewels from the ACC's crown. Over time, the ACC will be left with the "bad risks" which means its claim costs and premiums will rise inexorably; the corporation will not be able to balance out the bad risks with the good risks. It will not be able to subsidise the bad with the good--which it currently can do, under a state monopoly.

Employers will, of course, find that the competitor private providers are more cost effective, efficient, responsive and productive than the ACC--and if they get caught with one which is not so, they can change to a competitor relatively easily, which will help keep every provider honest--as competition does. The obvious gains and benefits will lead to "scope creep" and more and more facets of ACC monopoly come under pressure and are opened to competition. In the end, like the old State Insurance company, it will be sold off. Whenever private, free market businesses are allowed to compete freely with government owned companies, the private free-market companies eventually drive the state companies out of business.

If this is the reasoning in Phil Goff's mind then the case is arguable. But one suspects that if so, he would not want to argue it. It's politically embarrassing to have to admit that ACC needs to exist as a state monopoly so that it can continue to get away with overcharging and gouging.

Is the Labour Party being dumb or clever? Hard to tell. But either way, it's stance on the ACC is bad for the country in the long run.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Doug Wilson's Letter From America

Swimming to Hawaii

Pastor Douglas Wilson

The current health care debate fiasco illustrates why nothing whatever can be done about America's death spiral apart from a profound reformation of doctrine, life and morals. And that will not happen unless a whole lot of preachers are moved by the Holy Spirit to start preaching differently than they currently do.

I have said before that free markets cannot be sustained except by free men, and men cannot be free unless Jesus sets them free. If they are enslaved to their lusts, then they will be easy prey for liars and well-placed buffoons. And because the establishment is currently run by liars and well-placed buffoons, the people will continue to be snookered by the power-hungry left unless and until they are set free from the lusts which make them want to believe liars. The liars, incidentally, have their hands on the helms of both major political parties -- and a bunch of the little ones too.

For instance. The unfunded obligations of Medicare and Medicaid are about 50 trillion dollars, give or take 5 dollars or so. The economic liars who are pushing Obamacare want you to believe their lie that the future will not go the way the past has gone, and that government mismanagement of programs like these, and Social Security, are no indicator of future performance. Things will be lots better this time around. Having floundered and almost drowned in the kiddie pool, we are now going to swim to Hawaii. If you predict unfortunate results, this is no doubt the result of you being full of spite and malice. For humanity.

But the establishment liars who are opposing Obamacare are doing so through the clever means of telling the elderly that their Medicare and Medicaid benefits will be cut under the plan, which is true, but which is also beside the point. It is hardly a mark of national repentance when you tell people to not believe falsehoods about the future by whipping them up to an ever-increasing, tenacious clinging to falsehoods from the past.

The American people have already swallowed a couple pints of poison. Obama now wants us to swallow a fifty gallon drum of it. It is hardly an appropriate response to say that you intend to fight for your right to keep your pints of poison. "Stay away from my Medicare . . . you, you . . . socialist!"

Our system is busted. Broke. Bankrupt. The checks that our representatives have authorized and signed don't have any money behind them, but they have not yet bounced. We are in that floaty, in-between time, after the check was written and before the angry creditor finds out what was done to him.

The problems we face cannot be addressed except by honest and courageous men. Where are we going to get them?

Posted by Douglas Wilson in Blog and Mablog- 27th October, 2009

The Coming of the Kingdom, Part VI

When a Great King Visits, Everything Changes

We have argued that there are essentially two constructs that endeavour to expound what the coming of the Kingdom of God really means. These are the Augustinian construct and the Reformational construct. The debate between the two is an inter mural one since both constructs are distinctly and exclusively grounded in the Christian faith. But both alike cannot be right.

The question is not unimportant, insofar as asking for the coming of the Kingdom of God upon earth is the first petition of the Lord's prayer. It is at this point that the major divergence between the two constructs emerges. In the Augustianian construct, the Kingdom does not come upon earth until after the Final Advent of our Lord. In the Reformational construct, the Kingdom comes by the power and Spirit of God substantially in this life, prior to the Final Advent—which is the capstone of the matter.

From the perspective of the Reformational construct it longs for the Augustinian construct—which has been significant and very influential in redemptive history—to be improved and corrected. The reason is that in the Reformational construct the Kingdom comes via and through redeemed and converted humanity—in other words, the Kingdom comes on earth through the life and labours of the people of God. God has decreed that it be so. Just as the Great Commission is fulfilled through people preaching the Gospel and teaching the converted, so the Kingdom comes, and God's will is done more and more upon earth as it is in heaven, through the agency of people.

The more God's people are caught up in the Augustinian construct, the more likely they are to regard being in this world as a burden and sentence to be endured, whilst they await “going to be with Jesus.” In other words, whilst they may pray for the coming of the Kingdom of God upon earth, they are not going to work and labour for it. This, in the view of the Reformational construct, becomes a self-fulfilling limitation of faith: God does not work mightily amongst us because of unbelief.

In this post, we want to address some contextual issues which indirectly influence the discussion a great deal, yet often without people realizing it. The first contextual issue is the influence of platonic ideas into the understanding of the Christian faith. Platonism and platonic ideas have been insinuated into the Church and have done a great deal of damage. Oftentimes, the damage is subtle. Believers are unaware of how their understanding of the faith is being influenced by pagan ideas. They come constantly to the Scriptures with a set of platonic glasses firmly on their nose: they read platonic motifs into the text of Scripture.

Platonic paganism believed that life and existence, earth and the heavens were all part of a “chain of being”. The gods and man were related; just as man and animals were related. This “chain of existence” had higher and lower creatures. The lower creatures or beings were those that were material beings only, without a soul (for example, a tree). The highest beings were those which had no material aspect at all, but were pure spirits, or concepts, or ideas. Man was part-way between. He had both a material aspect, and an immaterial. He was body and spirit. He consisted of flesh and reason. But man could move up the chain and become like the gods. He did this when he died and “shuffled off this mortal coil” and was released into being a pure rational spirit.

It is understandable that in the post-apostolic world, which was dominated by platonic ideas, the Church came to be influenced by such concepts. Many of the converts came out of platonic paganism; many carried the ideas across to a greater or lesser degree. Augustine was one of them.

In the Christian faith, the dichotomy is not between body and soul, matter and spirit, but between sin and righteousness. God created a material universe, and man a material being. He created it holy, just, and good. His salvation and redemption restores creation—in all its material aspects—it does not remove one or transport one from it. The incarnation (the creation of our Saviour as a material human being in the womb of Mary), the resurrection in His body, and the enthronement of the material Man, Christ Jesus to the right hand of God all underscore heavily how God's salvation is of the entirety (not part) of man: body, mind, soul, spirit. The full and final establishment of heaven upon the earth after the Final Advent also underscores the issue—and in fact settles it for all time. In other words, grace restores nature, it does not remove man from it. It is always grace versus sin, not grace versus the created world. The latter is implicitly platonic, not Christian.

The great hope of the Christian is not that he dies and goes to be with Jesus without his body at death. Paul confirms for us that being absent from the body means that we are present with the Lord. This indeed is a great blessing—but it is not our full, great nor final hope. For all who die and go to the with the Lord do so incomplete. Salvation has not yet fully come to them. They have not yet inherited all the blessings that Christ has won for them. For Christ, their Redeemer and Saviour stands before them in heaven a complete and perfectly restored Man—in body, soul, and spirit. The hope of the saints in heaven is that one day they, too, will be fully restored to be like Him. In other words, the hope of the saints in heaven is that they will once again become flesh and blood.

Thus, the great hope of the Christian is not that when he dies he will go to be with the Lord, but that one day in the future he will stand (literally) upon this earth with our Lord, Who will be like us in all aspects, and we will be like Him.

This hope is an anathema to all platonic doctrines. That is why at the Areopagus, the “magpies” listened tolerantly until Paul declared Christ had been appointed their judge, because He had been raised from the dead. When they heard that—that their Judge was to be a material being, they began to sneer (Acts 17:31,32).

Athanasius, in his seminal essay on the Incarnation, argued that matter and material reality was forever ennobled and redeemed in principle and essence by the incarnate Lord living upon earth. He used an analogy of how for centuries and generations a city or town would carry honour and dignity from the visit of a king or emperor, even to the point of preserving the bed in which he slept and the table at which he ate as a perpetual memorial. The incarnation of our Lord has done this for the entire world on a grander scale. The King of all kings, the incarnate Son of God has been here as a flesh and blood Man!

But, wait—there is more! Not only has He been here, He is coming back—forever. We, who are His servants, have to be busy cleaning the place up, getting it ready, and administering it in the way He wants, ready for His coming. If we take off our platonic glasses, and replace them with the constructs of His Word, we will be active and busy in doing our utmost to ensure that in our spheres of responsibility and within the duties and tasks He allots to us, His will would be done through us, as it is in heaven.

If we identify platonic constructs, and expunge them from our hearts, replacing them with Scripture's constructs, we will end up concluding that the Augustinian construct is fundamentally inadequate and sub-Scriptural.

In our next post, we will illustrate by looking at some pivotal texts which have oft been interpreted and understood by Believers with platonic glasses—while stripping them out of the biblical context. When these texts are put back into their biblical context, they become much more thrilling, exciting, and empowering.



Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Letter From America

Obama's Third World Press Rant

Wesley Pruden

Throwing rotten eggs at "them lyin' newspapers" has always been great sport in America, and sometimes even effective politics. But it has to be done with wit and humor, which may be above Barack Obama's pay grade.

Thomas Jefferson despised newspapers, with considerable justification. They printed libels and slanders about him that persist to the present day. Yet he famously said that if he had to choose between government without newspapers and newspapers without government, he would cheerfully choose to live in a land with newspapers (even not very good ones) and no government.

Harry Truman threatened to demolish the manhood of a newspaper music critic who criticized his daughter's singing. Richard Nixon compiled an enemies list, prominently including newspapermen. I made Bill Clinton's enemies list and dined out on it for weeks. George W. Bush confessed, no doubt accurately, that he never read newspapers.

The president's media environment is "target rich," but as any bombardier could tell you, there's more to scoring a bull's-eye than opening the bomb-bay doors. In a fit of pique, John F. Kennedy canceled the White House subscription to the New York Herald-Tribune (may it R.I.P.) because he thought it relished stories about Democratic zits and covered up Republican pimples. The ban didn't last; the White House soon subscribed again, and JFK poked a little fun at his over-the-top pique.

Politicians who actually get their revenge on press tormentors do so with rapier thrusts of whimsy and clever insult. An early 20th-century governor and U.S. senator from Arkansas (from whom Mr. Clinton took pointers) delighted in sharp thrust-and-parry with the Arkansas Gazette (may it R.I.P.), the state's leading newspaper.

"My wife and I have a little boy, and we have great ambitions for him," he would tell audiences gathered on courthouse lawns at the foot of the monument to the Confederate soldier. "If it turns out that he's as intelligent as we think he is, we hope to make a Baptist preacher of him. If he has just average intelligence, that's all right, we'll send him to law school. But if it turns out he's the village idiot, we'll just send him down to Little Rock to edit the morning newspaper."

Good fun. But something more sinister is afoot in Mr. Obama's carefully plotted campaign to destroy his perceived enemies in the press, television and even business. Rush Limbaugh is only the face of the opposition, and the ultimate target of the White House scheme is to marginalize and destroy the Republican Party first, and then everyone else unwilling to get in the lockstep parade toward the hazy dream of Utopia.

Mr. Obama and his White House can't seem to get their brains around the fact that the election of '08 is over, and he won. A candidate feeds on red meat, but a president is the president of everyone, and must set a different table. Mr. Obama campaigned with promises of a post-racial, post-partisan, post-rancor administration, and millions of Americans responded with enthusiasm. The candidate who said he took inspiration from Abraham Lincoln of Illinois now acts as if he takes inspiration from the distinguished statesmen of the Third World, where press opposition to the leader is usually a bloody no-no.

The remarkable White House attempt to define which news organization is legitimate and which is not began in August, as Mr. Obama's poll numbers began a dramatic slide. Suddenly the man who yearns to be the permanent president of the Student Body, loved by all and adored by the co-eds and their mamas, is rendered human after all. Anita Dunn, the director of White House communications, says that when the administration began planning for autumn (with important gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia), the president "needed to be more aggressive in defining what the choices are, and in protecting and pushing forward our agenda."

Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge and Fox News are big enough to take care of themselves, but the implications of what the Obamanauts are trying to do are scary, indeed. Brisk and even brutal opposition is something every president must endure; it's a pity that Mr. Obama skipped school the day the class studied American history. The candidate insists that the critics who scoff that he isn't really the messiah, but another Chicago politician, are just being cynical. This week Ms. Dunn insisted that the Obama image is intact. "He's who he has always been." So we are learning, to widespread sorrow.

• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times. This article was first published in the Times, here.



Protesting Too Much

National Testing, Although Well Meant, Will Fail

It has been fascinating to watch the predictable reaction by the primary school "sector" to the introduction of national testing for competency in reading, writing and arithmetic. State education has long been dominated by educators who cast themselves as professional experts. In the reaction we see their "expertise" displayed--and it is vociferous.

A powerful, vested, interest-group nexus has formed within state education made up of teachers unions who are driven to protect their members, principals who are driven to protect their positions, and education bureaucrats who are interested in expanding relentlessly the stifling dead weight of bureaucratic control over state education. The government initiative to introduce testing has truly set a hungry cat amongst these fat pigeons.

We predict that the pushback by the state education complex will be orchestrated, relentless, and, in the end, successful. "You can't fight city hall", is a time-honoured adage. And in this case the educational interest groups aligned to oppose national testing are far bigger and more powerful than any city hall. And the centrist government of the day is not willing to pick a fight with anyone, let alone the state educational complex. We predict that national testing will die the death of a thousand qualifications and modifications as the Minister of Education tries unsuccessfully to placate the relentless critics.

The idea of national testing in primary schools itself is sound, if it were stripped out of the ambit of state-controlled education. It builds upon a "tools of learning" hierarchy, where basic competency in reading, writing, and arithmetic are seen as the foundations of learning in all other disciplines. This is not a "common sense" notion: it is, rather, a Christian concept. But it is a concept which modern Unbelievers rejected long ago as part of the reconstruction of the world around the image of autonomous man.

The educational-theory arguments being advanced against national testing in these three disciplines reflect this Unbelieving reconstruction right down the line. The focus upon these three subjects will squeeze out other subjects, it is argued. It will stifle creativity. It will inhibit individuality and spontaneous expression. It will make children into automatons and machines. These emotive arguments reflect accurately their religious underpinnings.

Because man is believed to be the master of all things, nothing human can be foreign or wrong, at the end of the day. There is no body of knowledge, no subject matter, no particular curriculum which is more important or foundational than any other. There are only perspectives of spontaneous and creative beings: each perspective is as worthy and authentic as any other. Thus, in state education the teacher is not an imparter of authoritative knowledge, as a superior to an inferior, but a facilitator of a child's self-discovery. True, some may self-discover reading, writing, and arithmetic; but other pupils may discover art, texting, and hip hop. Each is valid, equally worth while, important and authentic. The skilled modern professional teacher, we are told, will facilitate and affirm each to their own. That is the essence of professional skill of teaching in the modern state education frame.

The NCEA system was designed with just this intent: to build a state education system where there were no failures, but that all students could find something at which they could and would achieve.

So the pushback by the complex will be relentless and comprehensive. The national testing policy contradicts the fundamentals of modern educational ideology--and is therefore akin to blasphemy.

Meanwhile, it is diverting to see the hopeless contradictions on display as the educational complex gears up. To date, the standard apologia for increasing illiteracy and innumeracy rates in state schools has been to plead the ever expanding number of subjects teachers are required to teach. You would think that now the state is requiring them to focus down upon three fundamental subjects in primary schools, they would breath a sigh of relief, and say, "At last, thankyou". But, not a bit of it. The self-interested educational complex is now talking out of the other side of its mouth: if they have to focus on the core three subjects, they will be forced to neglect all those other subjects they really, truly so love to teach, er facilitate that are so, so important.

Or consider this one. Testing on the three r's will result in us neglecting other subjects. Well, one thinks, surely this is an argument to introduce testing on those other subjects as well, since, you know, they are so important. Not so. The state educators are not having a bar of it. Their argument remains: because all subjects are equally important and authentic, not one of them should be singled out for testing. Go figure.

State education will continue to wither on the vine until it eviscerates itself. The national testing programme, while well meant, will not do that. The monster will thrash about a bit, but it will remain. Expect widespread fudging on the test results, and huge discrepancies in testing standards. The system will defend itself to the death--or at least until the testing policy is stopped.

To eviscerate the state education monster the government would need to offer a full tax credit for fees paid to every parent who chose to send their child to a non-state school. Within a generation, the state educational monster will have starved. In its place would be a rich plethora of non-state schools, effectively controlled by parents. And these parents will be dumb enough to insist that their children achieve proficiency in reading, writing, and arithmetic--and lots of other very important subjects.

That will not happen in our lifetimes--and will only occur when it has been preceded by a widespread turning back of the community to the faith of our fathers.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Paternalism and Soft-Racism

Soft Racism Excuses Failure

We all know that indulgence, excuse-making, and blameshifting have devastating consequences. Institutionalised indulgence, excuse making and blameshifting magnifies the devastation many times over.

In this regard the liberal-academic-media complex has a lot for which it must answer. In this regard also, the Maori Party is a perpetrator of great harm.

It is helpful and salutary when someone stands up to expose the harm and sheet home the blame. We applaud Michael Laws piece in the Sunday Star Times, accusing Maori racism of building a culture of failure.

RODNEY HIDE to a secret, and taxpayer-sponsored, skinhead conference: "Why are we fighting blood against blood? There's so much enemy that isn't white!"

Had this empathetic admonition been among the revelations released last Sunday by this newspaper, then the Act leader would be an ex-minister today – especially given he had also congregated the skinhead and white supremacist leaders with the public purse and then thanked them for being a bit more co-operative with each other "because parliament sure hasn't".

There would have been an ensuing week of condemnation, the Act Party would be in fundamental disarray and John Key would be attempting to extricate himself, as quickly as possible, from the tar baby that was his coalition partner.

And the above exchange did happen. Except substitute Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples for Rodney Hide, and the skinhead leaders for the leaders of the criminal gangs Mongrel Mob and Black Power. Oh yes, and substitute the colour. There is so much enemy that isn't "brown".

Incredibly, the state of both this country's politics and media is that we allow racism and we allow racial preference so long as the protagonist is Maori. It is the unwritten rule of liberal political correctness that the normal standards don't apply if the subject is tangata whenua. The chosen people shall receive a licence and a liberty that may not be applied to any other ethnicity. Especially a white one.

I was reminded of the double-standard again last week in the unveiling of the John Ballance statue in Wanganui – New Zealand's first Liberal premier/prime minister and something of an enlightened politician of his time. Ballance was a Wanganui boy (oh, all right, via Ireland) but a Wanganui boy made good. Apart from former governor-general Arthur Porritt: probably the goodest of them all.

A dispassionate and academic overview of Ballance is that he was a clever, driven and compassionate premier with no shortage of courage nor acumen. He was a paternalistic native affairs minister, a far-sighted finance minister and a supporter of the female franchise.

For some reason, he is seen by some Maori as some sort of provincial pariah. An unscrupulous land grabber who ensured indigenous misery. It is a perception wholly at variance with the facts. And yet like much oral Maori history, there is a touch of the cargo cult built into the memory. This postmodern grievance mentality needs historic harbingers to explain the current state. Someone else must always have been to blame and Ballance is dead enough, remote enough and white enough to wear that collar.

So where does this antipathy come from? This hate?

One answer is local kura kaupapa. Their rendering of New Zealand history is hopelessly skewed and often wrong. They teach grievance as a part of the curriculum. It explains their existence and excuses their inadequacy. They also build myths that Maori are a kind of chosen people, vested with privilege, and solely because they arrived here first. These myths include that Maori were instinctive environmentalists, living life in harmony with nature and themselves, until the advent of the white man.

Even 21st-century rates of child abuse are blamed on the effects of nineteenth century colonisation. It is the stock in trade of the Maori Party and its leadership that anything afflicting Maori is always Pakeha fault. It is the politics of the ghetto and designed to reinforce the ghetto as the only rational existence.

Maori success – individually or collectively – shatters such politics, challenges excuses for the excesses of the gangs, the making of brothers of the monsters that are the Mongrel Mob and Black Power.

Certainly this is not the Maori way. There is growing evidence that Maori have had enough too; the rahui against gang insignia at Murupara being repeated on many marae. Gang lore is not tikanga: no matter how Sharples tries to make them so.

But the sad part of all this is that we have all come to accept Maori failure as a given. We accept the welfarism that is Maori TV and radio – propped up by the taxpayer. We accept that there are lesser standards and lesser expectations. We accept that Pita Sharples' covert racism is a substitute for getting tough on gangs. And we're not tough on gangs because, well, because so many of them are Maori. We still accept that Maori need to be patronised as some sort of cultural cringe: that a departmental waiata and a few Maori words of greeting somehow mean something.

Nothing has changed in a generation. In 1984, Koro Wetere launched the devolution of Maori funding and programmes – Maori Access and Mana schemes; institutionalised kohanga reo, kura kaupapa and wananga; special seats on everything from polytech councils to trades training bodies; separate PHOs and health organisations. But has it made a difference?

No. Twenty-five years of trying a different and distinct delivery system and the plight and position of Maori has not improved – relatively – against other ethnic groups. All that has happened is that under-performing departmental schemes have been replaced with under-performing Maori ones. There will be the odd exception, but they are genuinely odd.

This will not stop Sharples, Turia, Jackson et al continuing to preach that the only redemption for Maori is separate everything. But it must stop the rest of us. The tokenism, the dirty dollars, the let's-look-the-other-way-because-it's-cultural attitude must stop.

Quality, accountability, results. They are the only standards that matter irrespective of colour. Anything else will be inherently racist.


Meditation on the Text of the Week

Faith And Its Counterfeits

Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God, that it will turnout exactly as I have been told.
Acts 27:25
The final two chapters of the book of Acts are remarkable in many ways. Luke takes us on an extended travelogue, as Paul is transported by ship as a prisoner to Rome, in order to have his case heard before Caesar, to whom he had appealed. Many have wondered why Luke became so discursive at the end of Acts, providing so many details of a journey from Caesarea to Rome, about storms, sailing tactics, shipwrecks, life threatening circumstances, the interaction with Maltese rescuers, and so forth.

But the point is obvious. Paul began the journey as a prisoner at the hands of pagans; he ended up commanding and counseling the centurion, the ship, and the Maltese, through service, servanthood, and doing good to all he met. Luke (and therefore the Lord) has him serve as a prototype of the New Covenant man; the microcosm of Paul's journey to Rome provides a type of how the people of God transform the world from the bottom up, with no ambition other than to be a bondslave of the Lord Jesus, and a servant to all men. The mode and method of the arrival of Paul in Rome actually are a harbinger of Rome's fate. It would eventually succumb peacefully to the Gospel, despite its best endeavours to stamp out followers of the Way. It would be broken and torn down by a Kingdom not made with hands.

Amidst the events of the journey, Paul reveals the faith that drives him, assures him, makes him calm and certain amidst severe storms. An angel of the Lord had appeared to him, declaring to him that not only would be survive the storm and the shipwreck, but that all the lives of those who sailed with him would also be saved (Acts 27:24) Paul, like Abraham before him, simply believed God—that it would happen and turn out exactly as God declared and promised. This is the faith that conquers kingdoms amongst other things (Hebrews 11:33).

It is precisely at this point, however, that many make a shipwreck of their faith. Operating on a half truth, many Believers in our day correctly grasp that faith is a matter of trusting and believing God—that what He has said, and what He has promised will surely come to pass. Then comes two untruths: the first is that faith makes these things come to pass, or makes God do things. The second, is that rather than understanding that special revelation, as Paul experienced it, has ceased, they believe that God continues to reveal special, pointed, and individual promises and commands to Believers.

Both are mistakes and errors with tragic consequences. The first error—our faith makes God do things—continues the vulpine apostasy of old, but now subtly clothed in lambskins. It makes man the director, commander, and manipulator of the Almighty. One has a disease: if one believes hard enough that God will heal one, it will move and persuade God to accede, and the healing will indeed eventuate. To state the case is to expose its disgusting idolatrous spirit.

The second error—that God continues to provide specific special revelation to direct and command Believers—is not an idolatry, but a childish and na├»ve error. It is something Believers need to grow up out of as they mature in faith. Part of the glory of the New Covenant is that special revelation ceases, for it is full and complete in Christ. Special revelation was only necessary whilst it remained incomplete. Being incomplete, it was inadequate—partial, limited, and a darkened, dim mirror. Once Christ revealed God fully, by His redemptive works and the inspired commentary upon, exposition of, and interpretation of His work through His apostles, all special revelation ceased. The Scriptures were then sufficient for every good work (II Timothy 3:16,17), even down to directing us how to perform even the most mundane tasks in life, such as eating and drinking properly (I Corinthians 10:31).

The force of our text, once stripped of these modern popular perversions, remains. Faith is trusting that what God has promised will certainly and infallibly come to pass. Faith that all enemies will indeed be placed under His feet; that the earth will be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea; that every knee will bow before Him and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father, that all creation will be redeemed, once the sons of God are revealed—and so forth. Faith in these things—believing that what God has said will surely come to pass—makes us steadfast and faithful in the little things of day-by-day living, the daily tasks of servanthood. The immediate consequences and effects of our lives and service we leave with God; the final consequences we already know, for He has declared them to us already.

We know they will turn out exactly as He has said. Therefore, we are able to keep up our courage, and maintain steadfastness.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Doug Wilson's Letter from America

The Importance of a Musical Education

Douglas Wilson

We are eager to establish and grow up into a genuine musical literacy as a congregation, as a community. But we have to take care to understand this process rightly. We obviously have to teach our children, and we have a great deal to learn ourselves in this process. And in this area, we have set our hand to the plow. But we must take care—there are certain things that are not meant by musical literacy promoted by the church.

We can understand this by analogy—the Protestant emphasis in the history of the West has been a great boon. Because we are people of the Word, it has been the most natural thing in the world for us to be people of words. Because we want our children to have access to the Word of God, we make a special point of teaching them all how to read. But of course, once we have opened up the Scriptures for them, they go on to read (and write) many other things.

The Scriptures are the center, not the periphery. Because we know the centrality of the Word, we can enjoy many other kinds of literature—from haiku to The Lord of the Rings—throughout the rest of our lives. But when the centrality of Scripture is lost, then uninspired letters cannot avoid disintegration. This is why public letters in our nation is the in middle of a 5 spiral crash.

It is the same principle with the music of the church. Man was created to worship God, and to praise him with song. Because this is what we were made for, we want to teach our children how to do it. This is the central motive. We want them to be able to do much more as worshiping Christians than we have been able to do. The songs we sing here are the most important music in our lives, and should be treated that way. This is the center of our music. But when we have been equipped to do what God calls us to do here, we discover that the musical abilities we have acquired remain with us through the rest of the week. We don’t just retain the songs—we retain the literacy.

Do a thought experiment. Imagine a generation from now a community that has virtually a one hundred percent musical literacy rate. Suppose that all the children under the age of ten today are able then to read a new hymn or psalm at sight. Do you honestly think that this will produce a monotonous sameness in all the music that is sung by our people throughout the week? On the contrary, we are perilously close to a monotonous sameness now. But when church music recovers its rightful place, it will do for all kinds of music what literacy does for every book in the library. It will open every lawful door.

First posted in Blog and Mablog, 10th October, 2009


The Coming of the Kingdom, Part V

The Kingdom Through Thick and Thin

One of the glories of the Kingdom of God is that it is “thick” in the sense that its coming will transform the entirety of culture. The Scripture teaches that the Kingdom comes gradually, working to transform from the inside out, as the leaven transforms the entire loaf.

We have argued that as the Kingdom comes more and more upon earth, the will of God is obeyed upon earth in the same way that it is obeyed in heaven. Obedience to God and conformity to His will in heaven is total, comprehensive, all embracing, instinctive, and complete. As the Lord answers the first petition of the Lord's Prayer, and the Kingdom comes upon earth it will increasingly be the case here as well. The Christian believes these things in faith, and plays a "long game".

Heaven, of course, is populated by myriads and myriads of creatures, whose service and obedience to God is not like that of automatons but of creatures who will to do God's will, who love to obey, who cannot conceive of any other way of being, living, and acting. God is at work in them, so that they all will and work for His good pleasure. As the Kingdom comes upon earth, the same reality will increasingly come to pass in human culture and society. (Philippians 2:13)

We forget just how “thick” human culture really is. When Clifford Geertz used this term, he alluded to culture as being all embracing, influencing and shaping even the most mundane activities. Even those cultures which many in the West would call primitive reflect nuance and complexity and comprehensive integration into a commonly understood frame of meaning. Outside observers watching a traditional activity, such as a traditional Balinese cockfight, have no idea of just how integrated that activity is into the local culture—of the nuances and shades of significance and meaning that either directly or indirectly reflect the entirety of the world-view of (in this case) the local villages. The so-called primitive culture turns out to be inordinately complex, integrated, and “thick” with significance and meaning. Geertz's research traced all this out.

We would argue that this is always the way with human beings. Mircea Eliade has argued similarly in his research into comparative religions. If the Kingdom of God is to come upon earth, it comes in a manner that is itself “thick” and transforms “thick” cultures. It touches, shapes, influences everything. One of the mistakes that has been made repeatedly in redemptive history is to view the Kingdom of God far too superficially. The Kingdom will have come if only Christendom could win back the Holy Land. The Kingdom will have come, if only we make the world safe for democracy. The Kingdom will have come if we establish world government and prevent all future wars. All of these, which have actually been advocated in the past, trivialise the Kingdom of God. Focusing upon such superficial trivialities not only reflect an idiot's view of human culture; quickly it degenerates into an ugly idolatry.

The Kingdom of God transforms believing men and women from the inside out, as well as from the outside in. It begins from the outside. The Gospel comes from the outside in; it is first heard externally
(Romans 10:14), then believed upon internally, as the Spirit of God moves from the external means of grace to applying grace internally, to the heart. This results in a person being born again, repenting, and believing. But, once regeneration occurs so that the individual repents and believes, the Kingdom of grace starts to influence and transform all that the Believer is, does, and touches. This means that the Kingdom moves from the outside in, and then from the inside out. The outside is transformed as well as the inside and vice versa.

But because human culture is thick and all embracing, the leaven of the Kingdom ends up transforming the whole loaf. A helpful way to break this down is to recall that human cultures, as well as human hearts, reflect goals, motives and standards in everything and everywhere. As the Kingdom of God comes, the goals, motives, and standards of human individuals and their cultures become transformed to conform to God's will.

The movie, Chariots of Fire provides an effective illustration. The two protagonists, Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell both run to win Olympic gold, but with very different goals, motives, and standards. Liddell runs to bring glory to God, Who made him fast; Abrahams runs to prove himself to his peers. Liddell runs subject to the law (the standards) of God—and so will not compete on the Sabbath; Abrahams runs subject to his own rules, employing a professional coach. Liddell cares not that King and country pressure him to compromise, the approval of the King of kings being far more important; Abrahams longs for King and country to accept him. Liddell is motivated by a profound love of God; Abrahams is motivated by a profound love of self. Both run, both win. But the goals, motives, and standards of each is distinct and different; both are completely under the control of their particular cluster of goals, motives, and standards. It affects everything they do, how they do it, for whom they do it, and why they do it. Liddell is one in whom the Kingdom of God has come; Abrahams remains captured by the kingdom of this world.

The coming of the Kingdom of God upon earth as it is in heaven involves millions and millions of people, eventually billions of people, acting so that throughout their lives, their goals, motives, and standards in all that they do are day by day becoming more reflective of God's will. This is something that only the power of God can do; it is beyond, way beyond, the province of men. But the upshot is a thick transformation of human culture from the all-embracing goals, motives, and standards of Unbelief to those of Belief. Only God can do such a thing.

We confess and acknowledge that in these things we have made only a small beginning. So, we continue to pray, “Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”

Friday, 23 October 2009

Doug Wilson's Letter From America

Cheering for the Cowpie Channel

The White House puts Fox News outside the tent.

I have said before that I find [Fox's] Sean Hannity barely tolerable. Whenever I see him, which is rarely, Bill O'Reilly provides an ongoing trial of the purity of my sanctification. And I have only seen Glenn Beck for a few minutes in YouTube clips, but that man is clearly a histrionic specimen of the first order.

That said, and fully acknowledged at the front end, I take great pleasure in the fact that, for the first time in my adult life, we are seeing an old-fashioned political brawl, the kind that suit-and-tie Republicans could and would never initiate.

These cable channel men, clearly not qualified to do so, have taken up a noble task that the certified gentry of conservatism would not touch with a barge pole. Of course the Obama White House is chockablock with commies. It is beyond delightful to find people willing to say so, with an audience of millions, and who lack the sophistication to know that what they are doing is just not done.

It is as though an uptown lady bought a Mao T-shirt for 500 clams at an upscale boutique somewhere, and some cornpone fresh off the farm threw a cow pie at her for doing it. Sharp intake of breath all around, right? But in the cosmic scale of values, which is more of a moral blunder? Throwing a cowpie at a clueless rich lady, or wearing a T-shirt celebrating the sociopath who murdered scores of millions of people?

Anyway, that's what it is like. So set me down as cheering for the cowpie channel.

Posted in Blog and Magblog 19th October, 2009

Hazledine and Voodoo Economics

Dismal Science

Tim Hazledine is a Professor of Economics at Auckland University. It would, accordingly, be reasonable to expect that he had a grasp of the fundamentals of accounting. Alas. Apparently not.

In a recent article in the NZ Herald, Professor Hazledine sought to reassure us that the Accident Compensation Corporation is not broke, and that talk of it being so was foolish. The sub-text was that the government had a hidden agenda (which just happens to be a familiar Labour Party theme for the past twelve months). His reasoning rested on two arguments: firstly, a specious analogy.

He painted the picture of parents facing a future obligation to fund their children's education, but not having sufficient money at present in the bank. Of course, parents assume that their future earnings will enable them to meet future obligations. No-one, says the eminent professor, believes that the parents are broke simply because they do not have the money in their pockets right then to fund an education bill fifteen years away.

See! It's the same with the ACC. It will face big bills in the future, and it does not have enough money in the bank right now to pay the bill. But it is no more broke than the case of the impecunious parents.

It is hard to believe that such economic and accounting nonsense can come from a Professor! (not a first year, junior lecturer mind) of Economics! What has the world come to when academics in their field of supposed expertise can talk such nonsense.

OK, so let's quickly expose the false analogy. It would be very easy using sixth form economics or accounting knowledge to generate a discounted cash flow value of the parents' expected future earnings to calculate whether they would have enough to fund their children's education. And if the exercise showed that they had insufficient funds, and yet persisted in funding their children's tertiary education, they would indeed be bankrupted. This is exactly the same as the ACC. There is no difference. Discounted cash flows of future income and earnings, and discounted estimates of liabilities and expenses were used to work out whether the ACC will be insolvent. It's standard practice in finance; it would also be very useful to the impecunious parents as they plan their financial future. It's a necessary part of prudent financial management.

So far the analogy holds up. But it breaks down when we recall that parents are not legally obligated to fund their children's education, as ACC is legally required to compensate for accidents: it services an entitlement. Education costs can be reduced by students taking part-time jobs, gap years, winning scholarships, or simply not getting tertiary education. In other words, both parents and children have choices. Hazledine has compared apples with oranges and come up with purple kiwifruit.

The Professor's second argument puts ACC into a special category. It is a state-funded corporation--and therefore, by means of the expropriative power of the state--its future income is not restricted. Will it be short of funds in the future? Well, unlike the poor parents trying to fund their children's education, the Government can simply vote the ACC more money. It can "create" more income with the stroke of a legislative pen. Therefore, reasons Hazledine, it is sophistry to say that it is, or will ever become, bankrupt.

We can see that the Professor does not believe in accrual accounting when it comes to the government--contrary to most in his profession. This insistence on putting the Crown into separate economic and account categories as a special case is not only commercially naive, it is politically myopic. The Crown does not have an unlimited ability to produce money without cost. It has to be borrowed from someone, or rorted from the citizens, or it has to print it. Hasn't Hazledine heard of double-entry bookkeeping?

All of these alternatives are damaging and destructive in their own way; all carry significant costs. Hazledine must know this. It's just that he thinks it ought to be ignored. One wonders why? Maybe it's because he believes Keynes was right--let us eat, drink, and be merry today, for tomorrow we are all dead anyway.

But, if that's what Hazledine believes, he should say so. In any event, to suggest that the Government has endless, frictionless, and costless deep pockets is inane, deceptive, and misleading. Like we said, if that's an exemplar of what a Professor of Economics from Auckland University actually believes, things are far worse than we first feared.

HatTip: Macdoctor


Thursday, 22 October 2009

Masterful Iran

Perfect Bait and Switch

You have to hand it to Iran. The Al Jazeera headline says it all: "Iran Not to Cede Nuclear Rights". These guys are very focused and very clever. They know exactly what they want, where they are going, and how they are going to get there. They have the West and Russia flummoxed, out-thought, out-manoeuvred. Not that it is particularly difficult to do--they saw Obama coming a mile off, and Putin is very easily played.

European nations have had it with Iran. They have tried the diplomatic game long enough to know that the party sitting over the other side of the table is duplicitous and for whom "good faith" is merely a weakness of the other side to be exploited at will. So, when it was finally public that Iran had a carefully concealed uranium enrichment plant at Qom, and that it had lied to the UN and the West for years, France, Germany, and the UK threw their toys out of the cot and got mad.

But "no drama Obama" just saw it as one more courtroom manoeuvre in the drive to negotiate and settle out of the court. Enter the Iranians with the best "bait and switch" manoeuvre seen in a long time. They allowed themselves to be "forced back" to the negotiating table, under threat of yet more UN sanctions. They assured everyone they really did want to talk and prove to the world that they were only interested in peaceful nuclear technology. They responded positively to a Russian and American suggestion that they give their stocks of uranium to the specific nations (Russia, France, US) for processing into non-military fuel rods, which they could then use in their medical and energy sectors. This would ensure that their uranium was used for peaceful means only.

Everyone was pleased. It was clearly the way forward. It was a face-saving compromise. Iran would now be able to buy non-military enriched processed uranium so that it could put it to all those developmental and peaceful uses it said it really wanted to do all along. By handing over its uranium stockpile, at one fell swoop its nuclear weapons programme would be cut off at the knees. You could almost see the relieved grin on the faces of the White House. But the American tyro knew nothing of Iran's masterful game playing. The European powers glowered. They knew that Iran had merely laid the bait out.

Two days ago the celebrated diplomatic talks to sort all this out began in Geneva, with much fanfare. Everybody was feverishly working on the details of how this solution could be made to work operationally. Then the masterful Iranian switch. Yes, they were very keen to buy processed uranium off Russia (not France, it was a bad boy--"untrustworthy", was a term used) and in the open market in general. (The refusal to deal with France, itself, was a classic "divide and conquer" manoeuvre. These guys are good.) But as for sending all its uranium stockpile offshore, you had to be kidding. Iran would never relinquish its sovereignty in this way. But, it was very reasonable of you chaps to offer to let us buy processed uranium from you--all above board, sanctioned, and legal. And, we thank you for your acknowledgement that we have a right to nuclear technology--which your willingness to approve our buying enriched uranium clearly acknowledges. Thanks, guys.

The American contingent has been left with its mouth open. It has been masterfully outplayed by the Iranians. Your move, "No drama Obama." Guess it's back to the Saul Alinsky playbook.

Postscript: The latest is that the West and Russia is playing out the game. They have allegedly agreed with Iran how the uranium-go-round will work. Iran will now consider it.
The UN's atomic watchdog says Iran has agreed to consider a deal on its nuclear programme, which could see it ship out most of its enriched uranium to Russia.
A decision is expected by Friday. It's hard to anticipate those masterful Iranians, but our guess is that Teheran will gravely consider the proposal, and will "co-operate" and agree that a small proportion of their uranium stockpile will be sent overseas for processing. Al Jazeera's correspondent in Teheran is likely signposting something like this when he writes:
Nazanine Moshiri, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Tehran, the Iranian capital, said the final decision over the deal "will be made here in Tehran. And Tehran has said it will not give up its right to develop uranium."
The Iranians will probably release just enough uranium to have the West hold up a piece of paper and proclaim, "Peace in our time." If so, as with Chamberlain, we believe they will have been played for fools.