Monday, December 30, 2013

Chepstow Railway Bridge - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chepstow Railway Bridge - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
With regard to the appearance of the bridge, the Illustrated London News stated that "the peculiarity of the site did not permit any display of 'Art' – that is, of architectural embellishment; indeed, a pure taste rejects any attempt to decorate a large mechanical work with sham columns, pilasters, and small ornamental details."[2]

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Rate of Gun Ownership Is Down, Survey Shows -

Rate of Gun Ownership Is Down, Survey Shows -
The household gun ownership rate has fallen from an average of 50 percent in the 1970s to 49 percent in the 1980s, 43 percent in the 1990s and 35 percent in the 2000s, according to the survey data, analyzed by The New York Times.

The findings contrast with the impression left by a flurry of news reports about people rushing to buy guns and clearing shop shelves of assault rifles after the massacre last year at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

going beyond scripture

The First Ten Years of the Orthodox Pres. Church
The minority, apart from seeking a declaration concerning eschatological freedom, pressed hard for a declaration against the beverage use of alcohol. The majority in the church made it clear that they opposed all forms of intemperance and that which would lead to intemperance. Yet they felt that loyalty to Christ forbade their adopting rules or giving advice which went beyond the Word of God. They held dear the biblical doctrine of the adequacy of Scripture to reveal not only what man is to believe concerning God but also what duty God requires of man. They maintained that to add man-made rules to the Scripture was as harmful as to subtract from the Scripture. 

Prohibition, J. Gresham Machen and freedom of conscience

J. Gresham Machen and the Regulative Principle
 [background: Machem lost a professorship at Princeton because he did not support Prohibition]

 The Bible did not answer these and various other questions. So, Machen concluded, the church had no business meddling in the politics of Prohibition or any other matter where Scripture did not speak.
Machen's reasoning here was an extension of the Regulative Principle. In the Presbyterian and Reformed tradition this principle has typically been applied to public worship. It teaches that we may only worship God as he has commanded us to worship him in his Word. People who hear this doctrine for the first time often understand it as overly negative and restrictive, as if we have no freedom in worship. Though the Regulative Principle does limit what we may do in worship, just as important is what it teaches about liberty of conscience and the Lordship of Christ. As the Westminster Confession of Faith teaches (20.2), "God alone is Lord of the conscience." To bind the consciences of believers on the teaching of Scripture is to recognize and extend Christ's Lordship. But to do so only on the basis of human wisdom or preference is to usurp his rule.
This principle is what separates Presbyterians from other Protestants. Unlike Lutherans and Anglicans who believe that churches may do whatever God's word allows, Presbyterians and Reformed teach that churches may only do what Scripture commands; hence the name Reformed, "reformed according to the Word."
The Regulative Principle applies not only to worship, but to all aspects of the church's life and witness. Unless the church can find a clear warrant from Scripture for a particular teaching or practice it may not speak or act. Otherwise it runs the risk of binding the consciences of believers and usurping the Lordship of Christ. In this broader sense the Regulative Principle is only a variation on the formal principle of the Reformation, namely, "sola scriptura."

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Morality without God | Talking Philosophy

Morality without God | Talking Philosophy: "Keith McGuinness February 9, 2010 at 11:06 pm
Benjamin: “…how nature builds its own morality into everything that exists…”
Alas, as someone who has spent much of his life, one way or another, studying biology, nature is one of the last places I would look to for morality.
In nature, some species routinely eat their own young, a practice which is generally regarded as questionable in most societies. War, genocide, patricide, and most other “cides” you can think of, are fairly common.
Nature is a poor guide for what is moral."
“Your religious programming obviously runs deeper than you have yet realized.”
I’m an atheist, you twit.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"Molecular biologist's dream"

"Molecular biologist's dream" is a phrase coined by Gerald Joyce and Leslie Orgel to refer to the problem of emergence of self-replicating RNA molecules, as any movement towards an RNA world on a properly modeled early Earth would have been continuously suppressed by destructive reactions.[47] It was noted that many of the steps needed for the nucleotides formation do not proceed efficiently in prebiotic conditions.[48]

Wikipedia, RNA World as of Oct 24, 2013

RNA world hypothesis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

RNA world hypothesis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

One of the challenges in positing abiogenesis [non-living chemicals giving rise to living things] is that the system of memory, reproduction and metabolism utilized by all extant cells has a level of complexity, involving three distinct macromolecules, that suggests it could not have arisen in its current form, and yet the interdependence of its components makes a more simplified mechanism challenging. Mechanisms have then been sought whereby the current system might have arisen from a simpler precursor system