Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Old Testament Evil (3) Tense Time

When the spiritual powers of evil tricked Adam and Eve into surrendering their authority on to them, they gained a huge victory against God, because they could prevent him from intervening on earth. Understanding this shift in the balance of power explains much of the violence in the Old Testament. God could only act if humans gave him permission, and that did not happen often, so the spiritual powers of evil had a free hand to work their evil.

Whenever God gained authority to act on earth, they reacted with dreadful violence on earth. The intensity of their evil attack often left God with no option but to use violence against them. This was the only tool that he had to restrain them. God would have preferred to use better methods for dealing with evil, but he could not do that until Jesus had come and defeated the spiritual powers of evil by dying on the cross. And God could not send Jesus until all the necessary preparation was complete. Otherwise, Jesus would have been destroyed as soon as he was born on earth (See God’s Big Strategy).

The Old Testament age was a desperate time. The spiritual powers of evil had gained a great victory, and God’s ability to respond was severely constrained. In this situation, God had to use violence from time to time, because that was the only way he could constrain the spiritual powers who were intent on using evil to wrecking God’s world.

Jesus victory on the cross changed everything. He destroyed the authority on earth of the spiritual powers of evil. The best way to defeat them is to preach the good news of Jesus in the power of the Spirit. They can be defeated with the sword of the Spirit and the shield of faith. These are God’s preferred method for dealing with evil.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Old Testament Violence (2) Sub-optimal

God had to behave differently in the Old Testament age, because he was fighting against ruthless spiritual enemies with limited authority to act freely. In this constrained situation, he often had to use violence to keep the spiritual powers of evil from getting out of hand. The cross changed the nature of this battle. Once the powers of evil were defeated by Jesus, God no longer needed to use violence to deal with spiritual evil. His people could defeat the powers of evil by preaching the gospel in the power of the spirit and forces them to retreat in his name.

Until Jesus came and died on the cross and defeated the spiritual powers of evil, God was constrained in how he could deal with evil and restrain its harm. He often had to use violence to restrain evil from getting out of hand. He used his authority in the spiritual realms to release his angels to manipulate the struggles between the evil spiritual powers to accomplish his purposes. That sometimes resulted in violence. After Jesus, that violence was less necessary, because his people could defeat the spiritual powers of evil by the power of his blood and his word.

  • Before the flood, humans had wrecked the earth, but they were not alone. The spiritual powers of evil were working through them to wreck it because they hated God’s creation. During their fall, Adam and Eve unwittingly surrendered the authority on earth that God had given them to the spiritual powers of evil. The evil powers had gone to work to lead humans astray and wreck God’s good earth.

  • By the time of Noah, the spiritual powers of evil were so strong that the earth was in danger of being totally destroyed. The only way to prevent this from happening was to destroy life on earth. The flood limited the ability of the powers of evil to work evil on earth, and many were locked up where they could do no harm. (See Rainbow covenant.)

  • Prior to the cross, the only way for people following God to deal with evil spirits was to keep separate from the people and things carrying them. People who chose to follow God did not have the blood of Jesus to protect them, so they were vulnerable to attack by the evil powers. The best form of protection was to remain separate from people carrying evil spirits. This is why God told the Israelites to drive the Canaanites out of the land. They would carry the evil spirits out with them. Allowing the Canaanites to remain in the land would leave the land full of evil spirits.

  • During the time when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, a host of evil spirits flooded the land of Canaan, because they knew God had promised it to Abraham, and they wanted to get there first. God did not want to start a war with the Canaanites, but he had to drive the evil spirits out of the land. The only way to do this was to drive out the Canaanites possessed and controlled by them.

    God's plan was to send his angels to stir up natural events that would fill the Canaanites with fear and terror, collapsing city wall and massive hailstones from the sky, dangerous hornets (Joshua 6:20; 10:11; Deut 7:20). The people living in the land would be filled with such fear and terror, that they would flee the land, carrying their evil spirits with them.

    I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run (Ex 23:27).
    This very day I will begin to put the terror and fear of you on all the nations under heaven. They will hear reports of you and will tremble and be in anguish because of you (Deut 2:25).
    You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the Lord your God brought you out. The Lord your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear. Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God (Deut 7:19-21).
    No one will be able to stand against you. The Lord your God, as he promised you, will put the terror and fear of you on the whole land, wherever you go (Deut 11:25).
    Unfortunately, Joshua did not understand God's plan and started a war against the Canaanite kings. This tight contact allowed the evil spirits to stay in the land by jumping across to the victorious invading armies (see Violence and the Old Testament).

  • Prior to the cross, the people of Israel had to keep away from people with skin diseases. The disease was a sign that they might have been attacked by an evil spirit. Remaining separate reduced the risk that the evil spirit would attack them. Many of the instructions in Leviticus were designed to keep people separate.

  • Jesus began his ministry by reaching out and embracing a person with skin disease. He told his followers to lay hands on them and pray for them. His ministry changed the method for dealing with evil spirits. (More at Clean/Unclean)

  • God sometimes used wars to accomplish his purposes, but does not start wars. He manipulates the outcomes of the wars that have been started by evil spiritual powers to achieve his purposes. Political-spirits and government-spirits used military empires to control the world. The only way that God could constrain them was to stir up other military power against them.

    The powers of evil are not united. They often fight against each other to get better positions in the hierarchy of evil. The Prince of Persia and his followers fought against the Assyrian Spirit and his cohorts. God used his authority in the spiritual realms to release his angels to manipulate these struggles between the evil spiritual powers to accomplish his purposes.

    God mostly accomplished his purposes by sending his angels to fight against the political-spirits and government-spirits (principalities and powers) and not letting a different one win. He fought against the spiritual power of Babylon, which allowed the spiritual Prince of Persia to defeat it. This allowed the Persian armies to conquer and destroy Babylon.

    Since the ministry of Jesus, God does not want his people on earth using war to accomplish his purposes. He wants his followers on earth to be people of peace. Preaching the gospel in the Spirit is a more effective tool for defeating evil. More at God and War).

Monday, October 28, 2019

Old Testament Evil (1) God Stymied

Many serious Christians are concerned about the violence that permeates the Old Testament. They believe that it is inconsistent with the message of Jesus in the New Testament. Jesus suffered in the face of evil and violence. He did not fight against it. Engaging in violence seems to be inconsistent with his teaching and behaviour. This makes the violence of the Old Testament hard to explain.

I believe that the key understanding that is missing from most discussions on this topic is and understanding of spiritual warfare and the precariousness of the battle that God was fighting.

God Stymied

When Adam and Eve sinned against God, they handed authority over the earth to the spiritual forces of evil. The consequence of this authority shift was that God was shut out of the wonderful world he had created. He could not act on earth, unless a human called out and gave him authority to help.

When God gave Adam and Eve dominion over the earth, he meant what he said. He was not half-heartedly giving authority, thinking that he could take it back if things turned sour. That would have been dishonest, and God does not work like that.

God had a long-term strategy to restore his creation, but the first few thousand years were a hard struggle. He could not act on earth, unless humans asked for help. He can only act on earth, if humans give him authority, so he needed loyal people and a place to work. He needed humans to give him authority to act on earth. God had a plan to restore his influence, but it would take time.

For most of the Old Testament age, God was shut out of the world that he had created. During this long season, he only received rare opportunities to gain influence on earth. He used each of these very wisely, but could not make much progress. The spiritual powers of evil virtually had a free hand to work their evil on earth. God keeps his word, so when they lost it, he did not take back the authority over the earth that he had given to humans. He had to find other sub-optimal methods to accomplish his purposes. This sometimes made violence necessary.

In the Old Testament age, God had only a few people who walked in the Spirit, because the Holy Spirit could not be released in fullness until after the cross. However, there was a massive battle going on in the spiritual realms. Because humans had given the spiritual powers of evil authority over the earth, God had limited ability to fight against them. This was a serious struggle, and God had only limited authority to act to restrain them.

Friday, October 25, 2019

To Change the World

The most important event in US history was the Great Awakening. Many of the settlers who came to America were Christians, and the awakening reinforced that influence, meaning the republic was established when the majority of people were Christian. if not in faith, at least in world view. This opened the way for Christian influence in the culture, education, government, law and most of society. The second awakening and later revivals reinforced that situation. The clergy had a strong voice into society.

That strong Christian influence is now mostly gone. The change was confirmed when the Moral Majority (not a majority) turned evangelical Christians into just another political segment. The politicians don’t give to much influence to any one segment, because that would offend others, which are equally important.

The United States now has a culture, education system, government, laws, etc, which is secular, and often anti-Christian. Politicians give a nod to God to keep this political segment on side, but they are not really serious.

Unless American Christians can bring in third great awakening (it does not seem likely, as Christians are hiding in their sanctuaries singing Halleluiah.), that is the way it will remain. Trying to return to the previous situation using political power or military force will fail. You cannot change hearts with a stick.

In his book called To Change the World, James Davison Hunter explains why recovering this situation will be much harder, due to the realities of modern pluralism. The following quotes are relevant.

Pluralism in its most basic expression is nothing more than the simultaneous presence of multiple cultures and those who inhabit those cultures. For most of human history communities and societies existed in relative isolation and thus were insulated from exogenous social and cultural influences. The operative word here is “relative” because pluralism, in fact, has existed for millennia all around the world. Ancient cities and trade routes were the meeting places of a remarkable diversity of people and culture. People did not live in cities or along trade routes, but were based in agriculture communities that tended to be very small in the number of people and limited in their geographic reach.

Yet beginning with the age of modern exploration, followed by western industrialization and urbanization and most recently the powerful forces of globalization, pluralism has emerged as one of the defining features of the contemporary world order. Pluralism has become so prominent in part because of the extraordinary growth of cities, in both their size and their number. The majority of people in the world now live in and around cities. Yet global urbanization has occurred simultaneously with the stunning growth in technologies of transportation, not only making travel easier, but rapidly increasing the mix of cultures regionally and internationally. Perhaps more significant than urbanisation and travel has been the growth of communications technologies— television, newspapers, film, and the Internet— and with it a massive flow of information. These technologies and the concomitant flow of communication and information make it impossible to avoid the plurality of cultures.

All this together means that instead of just a small minority of any given society coming into sustained contact with the differences represented by competing cultures, now the vast majority does—indeed the majority is constituted by precisely those differences... the incidence of pluralism has increased massively, which means that average people experience it more frequently and more intensely than ever before in human history.

In most times and places in human history, pluralism was the exception to the rule, where it exists, it operated with the framework of a strong dominant culture. If one were a part of a minority community, one understood the governing assumptions, conventions and practices of social life and learned how to operate with them. Because of the relative insular nature of social life, whether in the majority or the minority, one could be convinced of the superiority of one’s own believes and way of life and never really have to seriously face up to the claims of another’s...

Pluralism today—at least in America—exists without a dominant culture, at least not one of overwhelming credibility or one that is beyond challenge (p.200-201).

Pluralism make it much harder to sustain Chrisitan faith.
There is a direct relation between the cohesion of institutions and the cohesiveness of beliefs, values and world views. Strong and coherent beliefs require strong institutions enveloping those who aspire to believe. These are the conditions that turn beliefs into settled convictions. And when social conditions are unstable or when the cohesion of social life is fragmented, then the constituency and intelligibility of belief is undermined.

The social conditions supporting any particular belief system are necessarily weaker. Belief is certainly possible, but it is necessarily different. The confidence borne from beliefs that are taken for granted typically gives way to belief plagued by ambivalence and certainty. The uncertainty is not a matter of insufficient will or deficient commitment, but a natural psychological reaction to weakened plausibility structures. The social situation obligates one to choose, but once the choice is made— given the ubiquitous presence of alternatives in a market culture orientated toward consumer choice-one must reaffirm that choice again and again. These are social conditions that make faithfulness difficult and faithlessness almost natural.

Another way to describe the dilemma for religious faith is that pluralism creates social conditions in which God is not long an inevitability. While it is possible to believe in god, one has to work must charter at it because the framework of belief is no longer present to sustain it. The presumption of God and of God and his active presence in the world cannot be easily sustained because the most important symbols of social, economic, political and aesthetic life no longer point to Him.

While it is possible to be a faithful Christian believer, it requires an act of will much greater than in the past because the reminders of God’s love and judgment or his purposes in daily experience may not have disappeared, but they receded from shared public life (p.203).

A revival will not be enough to take the United States back to what it was. Massive cultural change will be necessary to make that real.

Two things will key.

  • A powerful display of the Holy Spirits power will be needed to blow open the aridity of modern pluralism.

  • Christians will need to establish strong communities that can sustain a different life in the midst of pluralistic pressures. Small groups of people will join together to support each other through the storm. This will enable them to stand together in Jesus while everything around them is being shaken. I describe how this can happen in my books called Being Church Where We Live and the Government of God.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Money and Inflation

Traditional economics taught that when governments print money, inflation always follows. There is plenty of evidence from history to confirm this theory, and many nations have been seriously damaged by government-induced inflation. It does not matter if it is disguised with fancy words like “balance sheet expansion” or “quantitative easing”.

Following the GFC, central banks engaged in the largest monetary expansion that the world has ever known, but the inflation does not see to have occurred. Several things have made this event different. Price inflation is never even. It always affects some parts of the economy more than others.

  • Shifting industrial to China and the rest of Asia has brought a massive reduction in the prices of consumer goods. This has eliminated the risk of consumer goods inflation, that is measured by the standard consumers' price index.

  • Labour unions are weak, and many workers are in precarious employment with big debts, so they have not been able to push up wages.

  • Banks used a significant chunk of the new money to get rid of bad debts on their books and to strengthen their balance sheets. They did not expand their lending, when the central banks made it easy for them. So, the money did not slop out into the rest of the economy.

  • A significant part of the massive increase in money has flowed into the share market and bond markets. Companies have been able to complete extensive share buybacks and other activities that benefit their owners with cheap debt. A significant part of the increase in share prices is the consequence of the expansion of money, just like the increase in consumer price inflation of previous monetary inflations.

  • These inflationary effects cannot be identified and quantified. During consumer goods inflation, we do not know how much is the result of monetary expansion, and how much is the result of changes in supply and demand. The same applies to the monetary influence on share and bond prices, except in this case, time will expose the difference.

The difference in this inflation is that the rich benefit from the monetary inflation, and the poor do not understand, because they are blinded by cheap consumer goods, so there is no one to complain about the monetary inflation.

Unfortunately, government-induced inflation always distorts markets in a way that eventually leads to subsequent problems. I expect that it will not be different next time.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019


Michael Ignatieff explains populism in a talk that he gave at the London School of Economics.

Liberal democracy is there to regulate and manage conflict, and keep us this side of violence.

In a liberal democracy, majority rule is limited by the rule of law. Democratic legitimacy comes from two sources:

  • The will of the people.
  • Conformity to law.
These two sources of legitimacy are supposed to be complementary, but they are almost always in conflict. There is a contradiction at the heart of liberal democracy that consistently resurfaces. A populist movement exposes the conflict between these two sources of legitimacy.
The problem is that conformity to law has changed significantly.
A highly complex modern society cannot be governed unless it is governed by a highly trained bureaucracy, which is held to account by the people’s representatives.

Ignatieff’s outline explains the widespread disillusionment with modern liberal democracy.

  • The people have lost faith in their elected representatives. Even if they are like them, they feel that once the representative gets to Washington, London or Brussels, they sell out and stop protecting the people that elected them.

  • Elected representatives discover that they have very little influence. They feel powerless and subservient to the executive and before a faceless bureaucracy.

  • In modern societies, the bureaucracy of government has become incredibly large and massively powerful. These bureaucracies are elitist, believing that they know better than the population that they govern. They seem themselves as different and better than the rest.

  • Ordinary people see these bureaucracies as distant elities. That is why they no longer trust them. In the US, they fear the Deep State. In the UK, they distrust the bureaucrats in Whitehall and Brussels.

These changes are the fuel that feeds populist movements, like MAGA and Brexit.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Wider Circulation of Dreams

A follower of Jesus will sometimes believe that the dream is for the wider body of Christ, or for their nation. When a dream that speaks to the dreamer is shared with the wider body of Christ the processes for interpretation and testing of the dream are different. The dream should be submitted to the elders who oversee the dreamer. In a way, the dreamer loses control of their dream.

The content of the dream cannot be challenged, because the dreamer saw what they saw. However, two questions need to be answered.

  • Is the dream appropriate for sharing with the church or the nation? It should only be circulated if the dream is from God and the interpretation is relevant to the people who will read it.
  • Is the interpretation clear and correct? The message of the dream usually comes through the interpretation, so it is important that the interpretation is accurate.
If a dream is to be shared widely, then the interpretation needs to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. If it comes from the flesh, the interpretation could lead the body of Jesus astray, even if the dream is from God. This means that the interpretation should be tested in the same was as a prophecy is tested.

A prophecy and the interpretation of a dream are both messages from God mediated by the Holy Spirit, so they can both be subject to human error. For the protection of God’s voice, they need to be tested. We must guard against assuming that because a dream is vivid and clear that its interpretation is clear.

People can be mistaken about the interpretation of a dream. The person who received the dream will be likely to interpret it through their own experience. This is fine if it is a message for the dreamer, but it is dangerous if the dream is for the wider church.

When a person gives their dream to the body of Jesus for its edification, they lose control of the interpretation of the dream. The church is responsible for ascertaining that the dream is appropriate for sharing, and that the interpretation is correct. In some cases, the elders of the church may decide that the dream should be shared, but propose a different interpretation that they believe is inspired by the Holy Spirit.

If the dreamer objects to that interpretation, they could ask the elders not to share the dream. The elders should respect such a request.

Testing Dreams

God speaks through dreams, so it is important that we understand them well. This means that interpretation and testing of dreams is essential.

Some dreams are personal. Others are for the body of Christ or for a nation.

Testing Dreams
The interesting thing about a dream is that the content of the dream cannot really be challenged. The reality is that the dreamer saw what they saw in the dream, and no one can say they are wrong about what they have seen.

The most that a friend can do is challenge the source of dream. An insightful friend might suggest that a dream did not come from God, but came from the spiritual powers of evil. They might say that it came from the dreamer’s flesh, perhaps because they had overeaten.

The other problem with the content of a dream is that the dreamer might not have recorded it accurately or clearly. They might accidently leave out some key details from their account of the dream. Gentile questions by an honest fiend might clarify the details of the dream.

Interpretation of Private Dreams
The interpretation of a dream is different, because it is a human activity with potential for error, so testing of the interpretation of a dream is essential.

If the message of the dream is personal, the person receiving the dream will often be in the best position to interpret it, because they have the context within which it was received. If the dream is for their guidance, their current situation and the experience they are going through will be important for understanding the dream.

If the person receiving the dream is unable to interpret it, they should seek advice from a friend with insight into dream.

Once the interpretation of a dream has been worked out, a wise person will seek confirmation from others whom they trust that the interpretation is correct, before acting on the interpretation of their dream.

We tend to assume that a message received through a dream can always be trusted, because the message came directly from God without human intervention. However, the message of a dream is understood through interpretation and that is a human task that can go wrong. So, testing of dreams is as essential as testing as prophecies.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Nagel on Value

In his book called Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False, Thomas Nagel says that the materialist world view cannot explain human moral values.

Real value—good and bad, right and wrong—is another of those things like consciousness and cognition, that seem at first sight incompatible with evolutionary naturalism in its familiar materialism form (p.97).

Value judgments and moral reasoning are part of human life, and therefore part of the factual evidence about what humans are capable of. The interpretation of faculties such as these is inescapably relevant to the task of discovering the best scientific or cosmological account of what we are and how we came into existence (p.106).

We are the subjects of judgment-sensitive attitudes, and those judgments have a subject matter beyond themselves. We exist in a world of values and respond to them through normative judgments that guide our actions. This, like our more general cognitive capacities, is a higher development of our nature as conscious creatures (p.114).

We Know Better

Matt Taibbi gives an interesting warning in article called Permanent Coup.

I am not a great fan of Donald Trump. His morals are weak and his Christian faith seems to be convenient. Some of his business practices were probably corrupt. However, all this was well known when he was elected President, by a process that complied to the constitution, even if it was not totally fair.

So, I find it bizarre that from the day he entered office, and perhaps before, the Washington establishment and the security system were trying to undermine his presidency, as if they knew better than the people who voted. It seems like his presidency will be corrupted from beginning to end.

If they believe in democracy and a system with presidential power, I don’t understand why the political establishment would work so hard to invalidate the outcome of an election, especially when it limits the ability of the president to act at critical times.

Some of Donald Trump's policies have been unwise. He has appointed some odd people to his team (perhaps there are few with the necessary experience that he can trust). But why waste energy on a drawn-out impeachment process, when the people can decide if he is not fit for office in the election next year. Surely that is the democratic solution.

I presume that part of this hostility is payback for Obama. His presidency was weakened, not just by his inexperience, but also by accusations about his birth certificate and being a secret Moslem.

I can only presume that the next Democrat elected as president will have a torrid time, as Trump supporters go for payback too.
All this bad behaviour makes a powerful nation look foolish. Jesus said,

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand (Mark 3:24).
Thinking about where all this rancour, lying and media manipulation will lead is scary.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Fed Actions Speak Loudly

Last week, in addition to pumping $82.7B to prop up the repo market, the Federal Reserve announced it would be expanding its balance sheet with a $60B/month Treasury buying operation for the next few months.

Sven Henrich of the Northman Trader notes that this is equivalent to $720B a year. He explains that this is more than the entire US military budget, the largest military budget on the planet.

He comments,

Take these actions and place them anywhere else in history (2000, 2007, any time) and this would be called an emergency intervention program.
This raises a serious question. If the US economy is as strong as the government is claiming, why is the Fed taking such serious actions? Actions usually speak louder than words.

Kurds and Syria

Christians who have watched a few news clips, but often know very little history, are getting stirred up about the Kurds, and claiming that Donald Trump is betraying them. They want US troops to remain and protect them.

I don’t often say this, but on this one, Donald Trump is right. Further US meddling in Syria, whatever the motivation, will just add more harm to the harm that the US has done in the region.

A few myths about Syria and the Kurds need to be exposed.

  • More of the same will not help in Syria. The UK, France and the United States got involved in Syria in another of their “regime change” plans. The game plan was for their special forces to train fighters to be paid with Saudi money to fight against the Syrian government. They allowed Turkey to channel a large number of Sunni jihadis from all of the world to support their plan.

  • Like most US war efforts in recent years, this vile plan failed when the US, French and UK special forces ended up training, supplying and paying radical Sunni Moslem groups associated with Al Qaeda. This has been a disaster for the Syrian people that the nation will take years to recover from, long after CNN has lost interest.

  • The Kurds have a long history of being manipulated and used by Western powers, and then being betrayed. Nothing has changed. The US, UK and France will no allow a Kurdish political state to be established on the borders of their NATO ally Turkey. To establish a better future, the Kurds should stop relying on fickle Western powers, and learn to live at peace with the people they live among.

  • Before the first World War, some Kurds assisted Turkey with their persecution of Assyrian and Armenian Christians. This is one reason why they are not trusted by their neighbours.

  • Donald Trump did not defeat ISIS, despite his claims. The US unwittingly contributed to the emergence of ISIS when it treated Sunni allies in Iraq really badly, by using them, and then deserting them. With more rational policies, ISIS would never have existed.

  • The United States cynically and deliberately allowed ISIS to advance deep into Syria in an attempt to bring down President Bashar al-Assad. Unfortunately, this plan unravelled, when ISIS got out of control.

  • Although not reported by the Western Media, by the time Trump got serious about defeating ISIS, most of the hard fighting against ISIS was done by the Syrian Arab Army west of the Euphrates, and Shia militias in Iraq, while the US just dropped bombs.

  • The US allowed ISIS to gain control the important Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor, by bombing the besieged Syrian defenders, then pretending it was a mistake.

  • The Kurds did not defeat ISIS, as many of the western media are claiming. They were mostly reluctant fighters. They only fought seriously, if they were paid more money.

  • Rather than engaging in street by street fighting, their tactic was to block the roads out of a town or city, and then wait while the US bombed the crap out of the people within, civilians and ISIS fighters. When the pressure got too intense, they let the ISIS forces escape in the direction that US advisers wanted them to go. This is why so many ISIS forces are still free and ready to fight.

  • The ancient Syrian city of Raqqah was almost wrecked by US bombing using this tactic. Large numbers of civilians were killed.

  • Many of the areas currently controlled by the Kurdish forces are populated by Arab peoples, not Kurds. They are being held as bargaining chips. In a few places, Kurdish forces have engaged in ethnic cleansing.

  • The Kurds have been well paid for every battle the fought. They have kept their uniforms training and massive amounts of military equipment that the US supplied them for their work.

  • Christians who are worried about the persecution of local Christians have woken up a bit later. The radical Sunni groups that the US supported in Syria have been persecuting Christians and destroying churches in Syria for years. Church’s with links back to the days of Paul in Damascus have brutally treated. I cannot understand why a Christian nation would support groups that are hostile to Christian, but the US did the same in Iraq too.

  • The Western media do not acknowledge it, but President Assad has led a secular government that protects all religious minorities. He is the one who has been seriously protecting Christians, but liberal western media are not interest in that.

The US, French and UK should get out of Syria, before they do more harm, and let the Syrian people decide their own fate. So, I am pleased that Donald Trump is at lost doing what he promised to do before the election, and withdrawing from his nation’s stupid war.
Unfortunately, to add insult to injury, the US is imposing sanction on Syria to prevent the destruction and infrastructure that they destroyed from being rebuilt. That is ugly.

I cannot understand why a superpower that cannot govern itself, and is tearing itself apart, thinks that it should decide what is good for other nations. The evidence of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, not to mention Cambodia and Vietnam, show that these do-good efforts produce greater disasters, than the problem they try to solve.

According to the news today, the Syrian Arab Army is moving into areas of NE Syria to protect the Kurds from the Turkish invasion. If this is confirmed, it is their best hope. Over the last fifty years, Syria has accepted large numbers of Kurdish refugees and given many of them citizenship, which few other nations are willing to do. Hopefully, the western trouble makers will allow this to happen and not destabilise this negotiated peace to spite the Russians who have helped it happen.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Book Is About To Close On The Late Great United States Of America

Michael Snyder in the Book is About to Close on The Late Great United States off America says:

We live at a time when “evil” is called “good” and “good” is called “evil”, and just about every form of human degradation that you can possibly imagine is absolutely exploding in our society. For years I have been warning that if we stay on the path that we are currently on, there is no future for America. I think that a lot of people assumed that I was exaggerating, but I wasn’t. Other societies throughout human history have believed that they could stay ahead of the consequences of their evil ways, but of course the truth is that justice is a relentless predator. We have completely rejected all of the values that this nation was founded upon, we have embraced wickedness on an industrial scale, and the blood of millions upon millions of our victims cries out to us from the ground. And those that would dare to warn us to turn from our evil ways are some of the most hated members of our entire society.
I doubt that dreams shared towards the end of the article will appear on the Elijah List.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Nagel on Cognition

In his book called Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False, Thomas Nagel says that the materialist world view cannot explain human cognition and why it is reliable.

The natural internal stance of human life assumes that there is a real world, that many questions, both factual and practical, have correct answers, and that there are norms of thought which, if we follow them will tend to lead us toward the correct answers to those question. It assumes that to follow those norms is to respond correctly to values or reasons that we apprehend. Mathematics, science and ethics are built on such norms.

It is very difficult to make sense of all this in traditional naturalistic terms. This points to a further expansion of our conception of the natural order to include not only the source of phenomenological consciousness—sensation, perception and emotion—but also the source of our active capacity to thing our way beyond those starting points (p.72).

But once we come to recognise the distinction between appearance and reality, and the existence of objective factual or practical truth that goes beyond what perception, appetite, and emotion tell us, the ability of creatures like us to arrive at such truth, or even to think about it, requires explanation (p.73).

The likelihood that a process of natural selection would have generated creatures with the capacity to discover by reason the truth about reality that extends far beyond the initial appearances, as we take ourselves to have done and to continue to do collectively in science, logic, and ethics. Is it credible that selection for fitness in the prehistoric past should have fixed capacities that are effective in theoretical pursuits that were unimaginable at the time (p.74)?

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Nagel on Consciousness

In the later chapters of his book called Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False, Thomas Nagel claims that the current materialist model cannot explain the human mind, consciousness, rationality or moral assessment.

Consciousness is the most conspicuous obstacle to a comprehensive naturalism that relies on the resources of physical science. The existence of consciousness seems to imply that the physical description of the universe, in spite of its richness and explanatory power, is only part of the truth, and that the natural order is far less austere than it would be if physics and chemistry accounted for everything. If we take this problem seriously, and follow out its implications, it threatens to unravel the entire naturalistic world picture (p.35).

Mechanisms of belief that have a selective advantage in the everyday struggle for existence do not warrant our confidence in the construction of theoretical accounts of the world as a whole. I think the evolutionary hypothesis would imply that although our cognitive capabilities could be reliable, we do not have the kind of reason to rely on them that we ordinarily take ourselves to have in using them directly—as we do in science. In particular, it does not explain why we are justified in relying on it to correct other cognitive dispositions that lead us astray, though they may be equally natural, and equally susceptible to evolutionary explanation. The evolutionary story leaves the authority of reason in a much weaker position. This is even more clearly true of our moral and other normative capacities—on which we rely to correct our instincts (p.28).

Our own existence presents us with the fact that somehow the world generates conscious beings capable of recognising reasons for action and belief, distinguishing some necessary truths and evaluating the evidence for alternative hypotheses about the natural order. We don’t know how why this happens, but it is hard not to believe there is some explanation of a systemic kind—an expanded account of the order of the world.

We go on using perception and reason to construct scientific theories of the natural world even though we do not have a convincing external account of why those faculties exist that is consist with or confidence in their reliability (p.31).

An account of their biological evolution must explain the appearance of conscious organisms as such.

Since a purely materialist explanation cannot do this, the materialist version of evolution theory cannot be the whole truth. Organisms such as ourselves do not just happen to be conscious. Therefore, no explanation even of the physical character of those organisms can be adequate which is not also an exploration of their mental character. In other words, materialism is incomplete even as a theory of the physical world, since the physical world includes conscious organisms among its most striking occupants.

So long as the mental is irreducible to the physical, the appearance of conscious physical organisms is left unexplained by a naturalist account of the familiar type. On a purely materialist understanding of biology, consciousness would have to be regarded as a tremendous and inexplicable extra brute fact about the world.

Selection for physical reproductive fitness may have resulted in the appearance of organisms that are in fact conscious, and that have the observable variety of different specific kinds of consciousness, but there is no physical explanation of why this is so, nor any other explanation that we know of. (p. 45).

Thursday, October 03, 2019


Our lives are affected by various types of season.

  • The natural seasons of summer, autumn, winter and spring have different effects in different parts of the world. Their impact has declined as people have moved away from rural areas into cities with air conditioning and urban transport.

  • Each life has changing seasons: birth, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, parent, grandparent, waning, death.

  • The Christian life has season: new birth, growing spiritually, mature servant of God, wise elder (1 John 2).

  • Churches pass through seasons: first love, overcoming, luke-warm, compromised lamp removed (Rev 2,3).

  • The most common pattern of seasons that nations, churches and people can pass through are blessing, forgetfulness, idolatry, rebellion, curse, disaster, repentance, rescue, obedience/blessing (Deut 8).

But one thing is certain. The Holy Spirit does not go through seasons. He does not have a season where he cannot be bothered doing anything and another when he is keen to be active. The Holy Spirit is always active, seeking to advance the Kingdom of God, regardless of what season is people are in.
For the eyes of the LORD roam throughout the earth to show himself strong for those who are wholeheartedly devoted to him (2 Chron 16:9).
If we are in a bad season, we should not be looking for the Holy Spirit to begin a new season, he does not, as he is always active. We should be striving to get back into the season of first love, of obedience and blessing, of mature servant, so he is free to work in our midst.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

God is not Erratic

I am uneasy about prophecies that say God is doing something new, this month or this year, that he has not done before. This makes him seem impulsive and erratic, which is not true.

God is not erratic. He knows what he is doing, and he has a plan.

If God is able to do something new that he has not done before, there are two possible reasons.

  • Something has changed in the spiritual realms. For example, God was able to pour out his spirit at Pentecost because Jesus had dealt with sin and ascended and sat down at the right hand of God. Before that, he could only send the spirit sporadically. Likewise, God was able to restore Israel in the time of Nehemiah, because the seventy sevens under judgement/curse were complete. Changes in the covenant conditions opened the way for God to do new things.

  • Humans have changed their attitudes/behaviour. God was able to send Moses to rescue the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, because they humbled themselves and cried out to him for deliverance. The Holy Spirit fell on the household of Cornelius, because they turned to Jesus and sought his blessing (Acts 10:44). When humans turn to Jesus and change their behaviour, then the Holy Spirit is free to move.

We are not living in a time when Jesus had done something new (he continues to be seated at the right hand of God). We are not in a time when a season of curse/judgment on the earth is coming to an end. So if God is able to do something new in our time that he has not been able to do before, it will be due to the second reason. It will be due to changes in human attitudes or behaviour.

The implication of many prophecies is that the Holy Spirit will not move, until God has changed his mind. The reality is that he can only move in a fuller way, if we have changed our attitudes or behaviour. It depends on us, not on him.

If the Holy Spirit is not moving in the way that we would like, the problem is not with him, it is with us. He is not erratic, but we often are.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Thomas Nagel on Materialism

Thomas Nagel is an atheist and professor of philosophy at New York University. I have just read his book called Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False. The book is a hard read, but he has some interesting comments about the weakness of the evidence for evolution.

For a long time, I have found the materialist account of how we and our fellow organisms came to exist hard to believe, including the standard version of how the evolutionary process works. The more details we learn about the chemical basis of life and the intricacy of the genetic code, the more unbelievable the standard historical account becomes (p.5).

What is lacking, to my knowledge, is a credible argument that the story has a nonnegligible probability of being true. There are two questions. First given what is known about the chemical basis of biology and genetics, what is the likelihood that self-producing life forms should have come into existence spontaneously on the early earth, solely through the operations of the laws of physics and chemistry? The second question is about the sources of variation in the evolution process that was set in motion once life began. In the available geological time since the first life forms appeared on earth, what is the likelihood that, as a result of physical accident, a sequence of viable genetic mutations should have occurred that was sufficient to permit selection to produce the organisations that actually exist (p.6)?

The available evidence is very indirect, and general assumptions have to play an important part (p.7).

Doubts about the reductionist account of life go against the dominant scientific consensus, but that consensus faces problems of probability that I believe are not taken seriously enough, both with respect to the evolution of life forms through accidental mutation and natural selection, and with respect to the formation from dead matter of physical system capable of such evolution. The more we learn about the intricacy of the genetic code and its control of the chemical processes of life, the harder these problems seem.

Again; with regard to evolution, the process of natural selection cannot account for the actual history without and adequate supply of viable mutations, and I believe it remains an open question whether this could have been provided in biological time merely as a result of chemical accident without the operation of some other factors determining and restricting the forms of genetic variation.

With regard to the origin of life, the problem is much harder, since the option of natural selection as an explanation is not available. And the coming into existence of the genetic code—and arbitrary mapping of nucleotide sequences into amino acids, together with mechanisms that can read the code and carry out its instructions—seems particularly resistant to being revealed as provable given physical laws alone (p.10).