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Faraday, Maxwell and the Design of Nature

At first blush, people think scientists experiment and measure and observe and analyze and then experiment some more....working with eyes, ears, and hands. Then they summarize it all with one of those compact scientific laws like f=ma or E=mc².

It doesn't work that way. Instead, from a very few measurements or observations, scientists work with mathematics, deriving equation after equation, confident that such equations will find application in physical reality. And it turns out to be that way. Thus Galileo obtained his laws of motion, Kepler his laws of planetary movement, and Newton his laws of gravitation. The close correlation of math with the physical world greatly impressedthese scientists, as we should be impressed by it today, but largely aren't. Does it not show the design in nature? Galileo summed it up with "God wrote the universe in the language of mathematics."

It's convenient for mathematics to work that way since there is only so much experimenting one can do with objects millions of miles away. Not to mention things very tiny....things we can't even see, let along poke our fat fingers into. One hundred years after Galileo, Kepler & Newton figured out the big things, others focused on the small. Magnetism and the flow of electrons [electricity], for example. At first the two were thought to be unrelated phenomena, buy later they were linked. In 1785, Charles Coulomb published the law of force between two electrically charged bodies, q1 and q2:

F =- k(q1·q2/r²)   where k is a constant and r is the distance between the two bodies.

What even the dumbest person in class must note is the law's identical form to that of gravity, a wholly different phenomena. The gravitational attraction between two masses (m1 and m2) is

F = k(m1·m2/r²)

The only difference is that electrical force can attract or repulse, depending on whether the two bodies have equal or opposite charges; gravity always attracts.

Along came Michael Faraday, who discovered electromagnetic induction. He found that if you rotate a rectangular frame of wire through a magnetic field, you generate electricity in that wire, it's intensity rising and falling as the frame rotates, mathematically described by the sine function.

Furthermore, when Faraday passed current through a coil of wire, a magnetic field was produced which would induce current in a separate coil of wire. But how far apart could the coils be? What if he tried a longer coil or a tighter coil? How would that change things?

Since you can't see any of this, it was left to a mathematical physicist, Robert Maxwell, to figure the results. He worked out through math that current flowing through a coil of wire produced an electrical field in the surrounding space. And that electrical field gave rise to a magnetic field. Which gave rise to an electrical field, which gave rise to a magnetic field, and so on. When "pushed" by current flowing though the originating wire, these electromagnetic waves traveled great distances, and did so, he calculated, at 186,000 mi/sec.

But wait! Light had already been measured as traveling at just that speed. You don't suppose....Yes! Light was part of this electromagnetic spectrum, only at a much different frequency. And how is it generated? By passing electricity through tightly wound tungsten filaments, same as Faraday generated lower frequency waves from coils of different materials and dimensions.

In time, other "slots" of the spectrum were filled in: radio waves, infrared rays, x-rays, gamma rays. We now make endless and routine use of the spectrum, yet nobody knows just "what it is" that travels through space. It is described mathematically. As Alfred North Whitehead put it: "The originality of mathematics consists in the fact that in the mathematical sciences connections between things are exhibited which, apart from the agency of human reason, are extremely unobvious."

Physicist Heinrich Hertz observed: "One cannot escape the feeling that these equations have an existence and an intelligence of their own, that they are wiser than we are, wiser even than their discoverers, that we get more out of them than was originally put into them." [italics mine]

Yes, we do get a lot out of them. So much so that we've become completely oblivious to what was "put into them" in the first place and who did the "putting." "One cannot escape the feeling," Hertz stated. Yet today's materialistic society has managed to do just that.

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse [for ignoring him].   Rom 1:20    NIV

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Many of the particulars here are found in the book Mathematics and the Search for Knowledge, by Morris Kline.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Four Suggestions to Clean up the Evangelicals

Just as Daniel apologized for his countrymen, though he himself had little share, so Ronald J. Sider bemoans America’s evangelicals, saying it all in his 2005 book The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience. Sure, they believe the Bible, as they are quick to tell you. But they don’t practice the Bible. They don’t apply it in their personal lives. Some do, of course. Some are upright, but no greater a percentage than is true of people in general.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way, a point which chapter two, The Biblical Vision, makes painfully clear. That chapter is as concise and comprehensive a discussion of the subject as you will see anywhere. Taking each NT book in succession, Mr. Sider highlights scripture after scripture to show that Christians were (and are) expected to live under Christ’s law, and that doing so would produce a people who lived so decently that their lives, not just their words, would be a drawing card for the faith.

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.         1 Peter 2:12    NIV

Here is Paul at Gal 5:19-21:  The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

“If Paul is even close to being right about what it means to be a Christian, one can only weep at he scandalous behavior of Christians today,” Mr. Sider states. “….How many preachers today speak that clearly about the sins of greed, adultery, and slander?”

He cites Peter as well: For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.      1 Pet 4:3-4

Apparently, the countercultural lifestyle of these early Christians was obvious to outsiders, notes Mr. Sider. Not so today among the evangelical community. “Our disobedient lifestyles crucify our Lord anew.”   Pg 96

After reviewing the evidence, “we have seen the stunning contrast between what Jesus and the early church said and did and what so many evangelicals do today. Hopefully that contrast will drive us to our knees, first to repent and then to ask God to help us understand the causes of this scandalous failure and the steps we can take to correct it.”  (pg 53) Mr. Sider has done just that and offers some remedies. You cannot read these remedies without noting they are the very building blocks integral to the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. And they do, to a considerable degree, solve the woes Mr. Sider describes. Alas, they earn us ridicule, particularly the ones having to do with obedience and submission. Don't many evangelicals join in the ridicule?

First, says Mr. Sider, the Western world’s obsession with independence must end, to be replaced with recognition that Christians are a community belonging to, and having responsibility for, each other. Paul goes so far as to say Christians ought to be slaves to one another.  Galatians 5:13 literally reads “be slaves to each other,” yet most popular translations, Mr. Sider notes, dilute the verse to a more independence-savoring “serve one another in love.” (but not so the New World Translation, used by Jehovah’s Witnesses. It reads “through love slave for one another.”)

Many churches today trumpet that they are “independent Bible believing,” yet the very notion is “heretical,” says Mr. Sider. To be part of the body of Christ, a church must align itself with a larger structure to give “guidance, supervision, direction, and accountability.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses have exactly such a structure in their governing body. Soreheads and malcontents rail against such organization as “mind control.”

Second, Mr. Sider suggests, any congregation with over fifty members ought to arrange its people into small groups, where oversight and encouragement can more effectively be offered.

They’re called book studies. Since as long as anyone can remember, perhaps from their outset, Witness congregations have made use of such small groups.

Make it harder to join, is a third suggestion. Evangelical Conscience points to early Anabaptists and Wesleyans, as if no modern examples existed. These groups took their time in admitting new members, ensuring that their conduct as well as words lined up with Christ’s teachings. They did not just settle for the silly and surface “confess the Lord and be saved.” Jehovah’s Witnesses are well known for requiring an extensive period of Bible study as a prerequisite to baptism..

Lastly, “parachurch” organizations, groups like Youth for Christ that transcend the larger church structure, have, by definition, no accountability to anybody. “Many of the worst, most disgraceful actions that embarrass and discredit the evangelical world come from this radical autonomy,” says Evangelical Conscience. Somehow such groups have to be brought into tow, though the author admits that he has no clue as to how to accomplish this.

Jehovah’s Witnesses do. They strongly discourage any such activity not under the oversight of the central governing body. You should hear guys like Barfendogs carry onabout such “strong-arm” methods! But one can’t help feeling Mr. Sider would approve.      

To be sure, Mr. Sider and Jehovah's Witnesses are poles apart doctrinally, yet organizationally we are his dream come true - a peculiar irony, if ever there was one.

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Tom Irregardless and Me     No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

The Tidy Dogs of Ellicottville

Although most quality of life measures have declined duirng the past few decades, there are a few bright spots. For instance, people today have to clean up after their dogs.

This was not always the case. Dogs were once permitted to let loose any place they pleased, and few people my age escaped the experience of sliding headlong through a pile of you-know-what, say, in pursuit of a fly ball. Let me assure younger readers - there is no experience quite like it. But now folks follow around their dogs with inside-out plastic bags, ready to pounce at the first sign of nature.  How can this not be a good thing?

It's in this light that we must view modern efforts to tax or sue industries that deal with hazardous and/or sinful products - cigarettes, gambling, alcohol, asbestos, lead, guns, pollutants of all types, even piping hot Mickey D coffee. To varying degrees, all these items exact a social cost. Why not have the makers clean up their messes, just like we do with our dogs?

But has the pendulum swung too far? Driving into Ellicottville (about 100 miles to the southwest of Rochester), one encounters a sign informing that unnattended, defecating dogs will not be tolerated, and then adding "dog waste is unsanitary and harmful to our children." It's not the prohibition that forces a double-take; it's the preaching.

Ellicottville was once one of those tranquil backwater towns where homes were mobile but the five vehicles in the yard were not, where hogs roamed freely in the streets and houses, where "yeppur" was the pleasantry most frequently heard, a town that then-campaigning Eliot Spitzer included in his observation that upstate New York reminded him of Appalachia.

Ellicottville differs from neighboring towns, however. It sports a ski resort: Holiday Valley. In recent years the trendy people have discovered E-ville and have decided to make it their own. It used to be that for the price of a postage stamp you once could buy any property in town, now land prices are out of sight. And, of course, the high-brow folk bring their wisdom with them. Like the aforementioned sign. Dogs have been pooping in the woods since the beginning of time, yet the outsiders just have to lecture "did you know that s**t smells?" with every confidence that the local dimwits will be dutifully grateful and wonder how they ever managed on their own.

Incidentally, we all know what s**t stands for. So why not say it? The truth is that I'm trying to clean up my rating.

Have we come too far in our quest for safety and sanitation? Tom Whitepebble has already opined that today's obsession with safety is itself a fallback positionfor people unable to change things that really matter, so they redirect energy to hassling all the rest of us with more and more "safety" rules. And in the September 17, 2007 Wall Street Journal, reporter Cynthia Crossen points out that we've been down this road before. Almost 100 years ago began another safety campaign in the United States, a campaign progressive for its time, yet the palest shadow of what gets pushed today.  Syracuse NY, only 90 miles east of here, slapped "Safety First" warnings on sidewalks, utility poles, restaurant menus and theater programs. "No one in Syracuse can get away from the sign of 'Safety First,'" boasted the local newspaper. Somewhere else in the state, a Museum of Safety opened, and the theme echoed throughout the country.

But in time there was a backlash: wasn't America becoming a nation of wimps? "Life must be lived as an adventure if it is to be worth carrying on," said someone from the National Bureau of Casualty and Surety Underwriters in 1923. And Francis Greenwood Peabody, a Harvard theologian agreed: "What an undiscouraged and expectant person wants is not 'safety first' anymore than a sailor wants to lie safely in harbor."

I wonder what he would say today if he tried to scale a modern store-bought stepladder, with dire warnings at every step, turning to absolute panic as one nears the top. Yes, we really have become a nation of crybabies. Ah, but for the good old days where dogs pooped anywhere and nobody gave a sh.....well, I mean, people just adjusted.

 

Tom Irregardless and Me     No Fake News But Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Knocking Highlights A Defender of God

Joel Engardio's documentary Knocking features two Jehovah's Witness families, the Knights and the Kemplers. Joseph Kempler gives the most compelling reason for serving Jehovah I've ever heard.

As a teenager, Kempler was shuttled though six Nazi concentration camps and survived them all. He was interred as a Jew and freed as a Jew. While confined, though, he observed Jehovah's Witnesses. After the war he became one.

"It's difficult to speak to Jews," he says. "They say I became a traitor. Six million Jews died and I joined the other side.

"I was among those survivors who felt that God was really responsible and guilty. He was the one who permitted the Holocaust. So we didn't fail him, we didn't do anything wrong. He failed us. And this is  a very common belief.

"God is being maligned and misunderstood and in many different ways looked down upon as being uncaring or dead or whatever, and there are all kinds of distortions as to what God is and who he is. To be able to speak up in his defense....what a powerful turnaround from somebody where I was to become a defender of God...what  a wonderful privilege this is."

It is a privilege. Mr. Kempler recognized that and grabbed hold of it, even in the aftermath of suffering that turned millions away from God, millions who could not fathom how God could possibly permit such a monstrous thing. Yet accurate Bible knowledge conveys the reason for both suffering and persecution, how God will ultimately work matters out, and how his worshippers should respond in the meantime. Armed with such knowledge, Jehovah's Witnesses survived what was likely the greatest evil in history, with faith and dignity intact,

What is remarkable about the account is how so many people today go the other way in the face of far less provocation. Mr. Kempler saw, in the holocaust aftermath, an opportunity to defend God. But people today, even some of our own people, sever all ties with God for reasons no more substantial than personal inconvenience, having somehow lost all ability to conceive of any life beyond the here and now. Such is the power of a materialistic age where self is the focus.

God being where he is and we being where we are, and we in distinctly imperfect form, one might imagine him keeping us at arm's length. Instead, we're told that we can serve him shoulder to shoulder, as if he considers us equals!

For then I shall give to peoples the change to a pure language, in order for them all to call upon the name of Jehovah, in order to serve him shoulder to shoulder.    Zeph 3:9

and that it's possible to be his friend:

and the scripture was fulfilled which says: “Abraham put faith in Jehovah, and it was counted to him as righteousness,” and he came to be called “Jehovah’s friend."   Jas 2:23

Inherent in defending God is speaking about him. You cannot read the gospels (literally "good news," Mark is the easiest; it moves the quickest) or Acts (the early history of Christianity's spread - "acts" of the apostles - things they did) without sensing that the ideas expressed were not to remain private but were to be offered to others. So speak Jehovah's Witnesses do.

The Bible consistently likens spiritual things to water. Water is healthy when it moves and stagnant when it does not. If Christians take it in through reading, meditation & congregation meetings, then their public ministry serves to keep in flowing. People have lots of views today, and, as a way of proclaiming "truce," a popular notion is that religion is too "private" to discuss, at least, to discuss with strangers. Plainly, JWs don't feel that way. To be sure, to keep "pushing" something upon someone who's made it clear they don't want it is ill-mannered. (though that doesn't necessarily preclude a later call. People change.) But the other extreme, labeling faith as too personal to even discuss, is not in keeping with the nature of Christianity.

In spite of their public visiting, Jehovah's Witnesses are a "live and let live" religion. Their "weapons" are ideas only. When you tell them "no," they go away. Sure, they try to be persuasive, but it's still only words. They don't afterward attempt to legislate their beliefs into law, so as to force people to live their way, much less resort to violence. 

To be a defender of God is a rare privilege indeed.

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More on Knocking here and here

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Tom Irregardless and Me    No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

A Fourteen Year Old Wages A Blood Transfusion Battle

A 14 year old from the Seattle area recently refused blood transfusions deemed crucial by his doctors. He died. The news media picked up the story and gave it wide publicity, almost all of it unfavorable to the boy’s convictions. This post is to put things in perspective. It is what the boy would want, I am confident. He would not like to see his sincere religious conviction dragged through the mud by persons speaking from emotion.

That said, death of a young person is always tragic, no question about it. You can be sure he would have far rather lived. Yet people routinely put their lives on the line for any number of causes, and they are generally lauded as heroes for it, not deluded nuts. Which are they? Take the one who “gives his life for his country,” for example. Only some of that person’s own countrymen will think his death noble. Everyone else will conclude he died in vain.

The lad suffered from leukemia. Nobody imagined they could cure him. Instead doctors thought he would likely (70% chance) survive at least for the next 5 years with their regimen which included transfusions.* The courageous youngster, Dennis Lindberg, was assessed by a judge who interviewed the parents, his aunt (who had custody), social workers and the boy's doctor. “I don't believe Dennis' decision is the result of any coercion,” the judge stated.  “He is mature and understands the consequences of his decision."

Oddly enough, the boy’s natural parents emerge as relative heroes in the story since they opposed the judge’s ruling. The article states: “For Dennis Lindberg, most of his childhood depended on the kindness of strangers to help him survive…..It is a saga that began when he was a baby born to parents addicted to methamphetamine.” The article highlights consequent hardship the boy endured for 10 years before the boy’s aunt was awarded custody. The natural parents have lately completed a drug treatment program so as to get their lives back on track.

Okay, now for the perspective, which I know the young man would want. He would not want to be portrayed as a fanatic nor the victim of fanatics. (The boy’s father states "My sister has done a good job of raising him for the past four years,” though he feels she imposed her religious beliefs on him. The facts speak otherwise. Dennis had made the beliefs his own.

Don't more youngsters die each year in high school sports than in refusing transfusions? Each year I read a few local examples of the former. I'm not sure I would know any of the latter were it not for news media relaying any such event around the globe. Does anyone think high school sports should be banned or it's coaches judged accessories to "negligent homicide,” as some bloggers thought would be appropriate for those who may have contributed to Dennis' mindset? The number of Witness youths finding themselves in Dennis' predicament is proportionate or less to those student victims of sports.

Dennis was 14. In just 4 years he'd be eligible for the military. For every youngster who dies via refusing transfusion, there must be 10,000 who die as combatants. Jehovah's Witnesses don't go to war. So not only their 10,000 don't die, but there are 10,000 others of all faiths who don't die because there are no JW combatants to kill them. Does anyone think dying in one of the world's never-ending skirmishes is more noble than dying in process of observing one's religious conscience? If all persons refused transfusions, as Jehovah’s Witnesses do, and all persons refused to take part in war, as Jehovah’s Witnesses do, this would be on balance a far safer world.

Look, death of any youngster in such circumstances pushes a lot of emotional buttons. I understand that. But the hard fact is that most of those voicing strong opinions now were nowhere to be found during the first ten years of Dennis' difficult life. Nor did they lend any support to the aunt generous enough to assume raising the boy after that. Nor, had this crisis resolved itself in any other way, would they take any interest in his subsequent life. The ones who should speak for Dennis are those who knew and shared in his convictions

But one also must address the assumption, never challenged in the media, that rejecting a transfusion is tantamount to suicide. (The judge stated that "I don't think Dennis is trying to commit suicide. This isn't something Dennis just came upon, and he believes with the transfusion he would be unclean and unworthy.") How often does one read the noun “blood transfusion” not proceeded by the adjective “life-saving?” The facts suggest the label is not especially fitting.

For example, Surgeon Bruce Spiess addresses the Australian and New Zealand College of Anesthetists a few months ago, and declares blood transfusions have hurt more people than they've helped. Transfusions, he observes, are "almost a religion" because physicians practice them without solid evidence that they help.

We all know that blood is a foreign tissue and we all know that the body tries to reject foreign tissue, even when the types match.

Another study concludes that the chemical which permits transfused blood to transfer oxygen begins to break down within hours of storage, yet in the U.S blood is stored up to 42 days.

Here’s another one which concludes transfusion triples the risk of kidney impairment, strokes, and heart attacks. Remember what happened to Merck when it was established their drug Vioxx caused similar harm?

Jehovah's Witnesses steadfastly refuse blood transfusions (for religious reasons, not medical) and have created hundreds of Hospital Liaison Committees composed of members who interact with local hospitals and doctors. As a result, some in the medical field have pioneered bloodless techniques. By eliminating the risk of foreign tissue, human error, and blood-borne diseases, these new techniques offer a safety margin that conventional blood transfusions do not. The film Knocking states there are over 140 medical centers in North America that offer some form of bloodless surgical techniques. Might the day come, or is it even here already, when the number of lives saved through such medicine will outnumber those lost by a few members of a relatively tiny religious group that stuck to its principles amidst much opposition?

And if Dennis’ death is seen in that light, it is not in vain, even in a non-JW context. He should not be remembered as some deluded kid. He deserves better.

This video is well done and has been recognized favorably at some film festivals. Leaders in the medical field are interviewed. It is food for thought.

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*After this post was written I came across two blogs by persons who actually knew people involved. Here and here. They both put a different light on matters. My post states that Dennis would likely have survived (70%/5 yrs) with a "regimen which included transfusions." If these two new sources are accurate (I suspect they are as they are the only writings that do any more than rehash and react to the newspaper report) it is the regimen that would have helped him, not the blood transfusions, which would have bought the lad only a few days of life. The treatment that would have been useful was stem cell replacement, which is said to be the most single expensive therapy in medicine (hundreds of thousands of dollars per treatment) and is out of the question for many patients on that count alone.

I also tend to believe these two new posts because I have seen this type of thing many times before. The reporter writes in the same emotional state as everyone else, and in the process omits key details that change the picture substantially.

One of the blogs (by a friend of Dennis) says this:

A related side note: I have read twenty years of the New England Journal of Medicine's articles on what he had. In the list of treatments recomended, Blood transfusion was not mentioned. The only reason they recommended it was to try to buy more time for the blood thickening drugs to bring the levels up so he could accept the continuation of chemotherapy. Also, they got to it too late. He'd already had leukemia for a long time and nothing could save him; the only thing a transfusion could do was extend his misery a couple years at most.

 

The other (by a med student who spoke to some involved) says this:

The treatment denied by the judge was not the stem cell transplant. It was a blood transfusion. Why is this distinction important? Stem cell transplants are the single most expensive procedure in medicine (hundreds of thousands of dollars just to do the procedure). We do them (and many health insurers cover them) because they work, but not all patients facing leukemia choose to be transplanted. Some cannot afford it. Some do not want to go through the pain of the procedure. Others (like this patient) have different reasons. If after providing all of the information, the patient does not consent to a procedure, the medical establishment usually respects this decision. Keep in mind that the legal decision here was related to the blood transfusion which could keep the patient alive for several days, not the stem cell transplant, which has 70% survival at 5 years as reported in the media. It's not as simple as a 750 word article would have you believe. (Although the Seattle PI wrote a good story overall.)

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Tom Irregardless and Me            No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)