Off the Cuff: Science and Faith

Historically science and Christianity have been allies. In today’s culture, many young people have walked away from their Faith based on the narrative that science and faith are incompatible. Jane, Leroy, and Joe go Off the Cuff to expose the lie of this modern myth and show how science and the Christian worldview fit together.

(Hat tip: J. R. Miller vid faces YouTube restrictions at Uncommon Descent)

Africa and the Coronavirus

Before it changed the title of one of its puzzled think pieces about the coronavirus’s inability to kill Africans in numbers predicted by doomsayers, the BBC speculated whether poverty could explain the mystery of Africa’s low death rate. 

When I read the headline, and the article that followed it, I imagined the author (Andrew Harding), throwing his hands up in exasperation as he dispatched the report to his editor. Something tells me he has been waiting too long to send home dark articles about Africans dying by the thousands, complete with pictures of mass burials and little orphans with dirty tear-streaked cheeks. 

That the predictions did not materialize (as they did in the West African Ebola outbreak) means entire narratives have been turned on their heads. But because the narrative of utter destitution is so deeply ingrained in the Western media’s conceptual framework for reporting on the continent, it is hard for reporters to explain how Africa has been escaping the latest pandemic relatively unscathed using any other terms. 

The BBC changed its headline after many Africans raised an uproar online, contending that it was patronizing and condescending. In its notice about the change, the BBC declared that it did not mean to “cause offence”. And while the call of civility bids me respect the apology, I do not think that not meaning to offend is a valid defence. No media worthy of the name should fear causing offence. Your job, dear BBC, is not to avoid offending — it is to tell the truth. 

And the truth is that no one knows why Africa is escaping the pandemic so lightly while the rest of the world struggles. And poverty probably has nothing to do with it, for the simple reason that across the world, in the hardest hit parts of the rich world, it is the poor who fill the ranks of the infected and deceased. And, even if we ignore the rich world, other relatively poor regions, like India, haven’t had nearly as good a run as Africa.

So why is Africa winning the coronavirus battle? by Mathew Otieno

The more Africa fears God, and works to expand His Kingdom — from loving their neighbour, to fighting corruption, to changing things for the better on the ground, to peaceful trade and honest business practice — to that extent, they will have a future worth talking about.

To build a great future, you start today.

As for the Rich Nations…

From The Bank of America and Deutsche Bank:

Zero Hedge, One Bank Expects COVID Herd Immunity To Emerge By 2022

—<Quote begins>—

Last week, Bank of America made a rough, back-of-the-envelope calculation that roughly 12% of the US population had achieved COVID herd immunity, far below the 60% threshold that is necessary for the disease to be contained without fresh policy actions, prompting BofA to propose a vision for a world in which we get periodic covid flareups in the coming months, many of which could culminate in fresh lockdowns.

Taking the initial thoughts from BofA, this morning Deutsche Bank published an extensive report analyzing what “Living with Covid” for the foreseeable future would be like (with an emphasis on Asian countries) since – like BofA – the German bank does not see herd immunity emerging as a factor until 2022 for advanced economies, and 2023 for the rest of the world, to wit:

Although developments on the vaccine front have been promising, there is uncertainty over the uptake of vaccines by the public and thereby the pace of achieving herd immunity, which would better ensure a more full normalization of economic activity. Our baseline forecast now assumes that some economies will achieve herd immunity to Covid-19 in 2022, along with most advanced  economies. Other countries are likely to have to wait until 2023 to achieve the same. Risks around these forecasts are evenly balanced.

[…]

Finally, reliance on a vaccine as some magic bullet that will magically cure the global economy appears largely misplaced, because as Deutsche notes, “although developments on the vaccine front have been promising, there are concerns about a possible low acceptance by the public of these new vaccines by the public. It may also matter importantly which vaccines are put into commercial production first – they vary significantly in cost and emerging economies could be at a disadvantage in acquiring enough vaccine.”

The bottom line, according to the report’s authors is that until herd immunity has been achieved – some time in 2022/2023, “economies will remain hostage to the virus – shrinking with each new outbreak and expanding quickly as social distancing eases with the subsequent decline in infection risks.”

—<Quote ends>—

After everything is tallied up, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the coronavirus of 2020 kills and impoverishes more people than the Spanish Flu of 1918.

Not because of the disease – where the very worst-case estimated death toll is about a million deaths (late Sept 2020) for Covid-19, vs 17 to 50 million for the Spanish Flu.

(Note the big range of estimates for the Spanish Flu… and a sharply lower world population at the time.)

No. I am reasonably confident that the coronavirus will kill more people, and starve/ impoverish more lives, than the Spanish Flu because of the lockdowns.

I am glad that Africa got out of this mess, by and large.

(Europe and America could got off lightly as well, without the China-sparked, Imperial College-fuelled panic.)

Evolution and Artificial Intelligence

Eric Holloway: Evolution and artificial intelligence face the same basic problem by Uncommon Descent

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Eric Holloway looks at the discussions at the Wistar Institute—which fell down the memory hole in 1967—and recovers Marcel-Paul Schutzenberger (1920–1996)’s main point, that you can’t actually get there from here.

Think of the word ladder game, where we transform one word into another by changing only one letter at a time:

Schutzenberger offered the example of computer programs, which are extremely brittle and even more difficult than transforming English words. A single character out of place will render an entire computer program invalid and inoperable. His question is simple: What is it about DNA and evolution that makes the process so much more productive and robust than mutating computer programs or human languages? It is even more mysterious if this process makes the modifications “randomly,” in other words without any information regarding the environment nor what would benefit the organism. As we know, the debate rages today as to whether the way evolution is supposed to have happened is even possible.

Interestingly, the same question applies to artificial intelligence.

The language of the computer consists of ones and zeros, analogous to the four GATC* letters of DNA, transformed through various computational operations. This is the heart of artificial intelligence—operations on ones and zeros. These operations occur without any insight into the environment around them. Thus any information that enters the artificial intelligence can only be understood if it is anticipated by the artificial intelligence’s programming. So, Schutzenberger asked, if we have a mechanical process with no direct insight into its environment, how can it hope to learn from its environment anything beyond what has already been programmed into its source code?

During Schutzenberger’s time, some artificial intelligence researchers proposed that randomness could solve that problem…

Eric Holloway, “Evolution And Artificial Intelligence Face The Same Basic Problem” at Mind Matters News

Without knowledge about the goal and how to get there, it rapidly becomes first difficult and then completely impossible to reach the goal.

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Scientific American Sells Out

Well, they sold out Truth a long time ago. It’s just being wrapped up now, with all the thin masks finally being flung aside.

No matter what else happens, any time anyone anywhere at Scientific American starts banging the drum for “science,” just remind them: You lost that distinction when you signed on to these campaigns. You are now mere partisan hacks, using science in the pursuit of your goals — some are worthy but many are unspeakable.

Say it loud. They may bite and sting but they’ll never live it down.

Scientific American doubles down on all politics, all the time by Uncommon Descent

Only Power Matters.

“But certainly NOT some Divine Power from On High.

Just the power of Powerful Men matters.

Nothing else.”

To Hate The Law is to Hate the Sheep

Question: Does our Christian Leadership despise their followers the way our Public Cultural Leaders despise the drones clinging to their guns and religion?

Answer: Sure, they loathe their followers. After all, the sheep are not nice an sparkling and cute like in the hymns. Real shepherds work with dirty, stubborn, stupid, herd-minded sheep: it’s why the Egyptians hated the filthy profession.

Question: And why God loves it.

Answer: Moses and David were actual shepherds.Jesus and Paul had to work with men instead. And it’s hard to build sheep up, to get them to grow up and grow into responsible, self-governing leaders in their own right, able to digest and master and obey the Word.

It’s far easier just to drill the morons to Obey the Leader in all things… the way certified, state-adoring secularists do. “No matter what irrational, unreal lawless nonsense the Consensus comes to, we believe!

Question: Easier for the Leader. More costly, long-term, for the sheep.

Answer: Who cares about the sheep? Do you think they care about the long-term? Apart from God, cut off from the Law that protects and guides them? They are fit only for fleecing and slaughter.

Question: God cares about His sheep, His flock.

Answer: Then I ask that He do something about it. For you can be certain, the vast majority of church-appointed shepherds will do nothing that risks their own safety and position. Just has they have done nothing for the last century or two, while the enemies of God have set their dominance over the ex-Christian West in concrete.

And the State shepherds are only ever interested in their new wool clothing and fresh lamb dishes that are being cooked up right now.

If God loves His sheep, then He will dispose of the worthless shepherds.

Question: If you ask God to act, then He will act. But perhaps not in a manner of your liking. After all, in many cases the laity prefers worthless shepherds, who don’t challenge them or pound on the Commandments or the terror of hell or the need to excel overmuch. Comfort and sweet words are far more pleasing to the masses, than the need to repent and the command to fight for His Kingdom.

Answer: Then let His Name be exalted by the might of His own right hand, and without the slightest regard to the opinion of His enemies, in or out of the church. For no public leader will raise a finger to support Him, or uphold His authority in today’s world, according to His ethics and His laws.

Not in the Church, not in the State.

If anyone will stand with Him, it will be some minority of the laity. And they have to do the labour God assigns to them. Without any assistance With the open hostility of the clerisy, secular and sacred alike.

Question: If His people repent, welcome the Holy Spirit, and hew close to the Commandments, they will win.

Answer: True. If they decide to expand His Kingdom in the here and now, they can do it. Perhaps not quickly, and certainly not easily. But in the end, yes.


Angelo Codevilla, on the intensely sheep-hating shepherds that make up America’s Ruling Class.

(Hat tip: Gary North, The Ruling Class vs. Trump.)

(Hat tip: A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, by W. Phillip Keller)

The Apostle Paul, and the Struggle Before Victory

The Apostle Paul took on the greatest philosophers and thinkers in Athens and other cities of the Roman world. While staying humble and acting in love, he and the other apostles were unashamed (Romans 1:16) and bold (Acts 4:13, 31). Their churches helped launch a philosophical and cultural revolution that changed the world. There have been many ups and downs in the interim, but Biblical worldview holds its own even today centuries after the scientific revolution and 161 years after the Darwinian revolution. The academic consensus belittles “evangelical Christians,” but so did the Stoics and Epicureans in Paul’s Day. Numerous also-rans for philosophical dominance have come and gone, often attacking Christianity as part of their strategy. The Bible is an anvil that has broken many hammers.

[…]

Nothing is stopping Christian philosophers and thinkers from taking the offense on matters of public policy and worldview. The only limits are access to media for making their case and the boldness to do it. Instead, many shy evangelicals, unaware of the strengths of their position, allow the secularists to set the debate, define the terms and call the plays. Pastors feel more comfortable hiding inside the church walls preaching to the choir. In so doing, they allow brash proponents of indefensible positions like Darwinism and atheism to dominate the media and intimidate everyone else, leading to the election of politicians who first pigeonhole and then attack bogeymen like “evangelicals” with unconstitutional laws, regulations and court orders restricting religious liberty. Before they turn around, pastors and church members are being persecuted. Would this happen if pastors trained and equipped their members in apologetics and spiritual warfare and sent them out as ambassadors for Christ? (II Corinthians 5:20). Paul changed the world by reasoning with the philosophers on Mars Hill, in synagogues, schools, on the streets and from house to house. What overcame his fear? What gave him confidence? At the end of his life, he said, “I know whom I have believed” (II Timothy 1:12, 3:14).

Christians Need to Stop Retreating and Take the Lead in the Marketplace of Ideas from David F. Coppedge

When the secularists have trained their enemy to think like failures (waves to the seminaries), there is no need for them to work too hard to win.

I am confident that Christian pastors, public intellectuals and theologians will never stop retreating. You’ll never get a church revolt — or lose your job — if you always feed the parishioners safe, uncontroversial milk. And Christian institutions will never lose your regular donors if they refuse to cause trouble with the authorities.

These men will never expand the Kingdom of God into the world, or discipline the nations, training them in Christ’s Law-Word.

The laity – and their children – will have to do the job.

(Those laymen who aren’t just passively waiting for the rapture, that is.)


From Chalcedon:

Why Did St. Paul Spend So Much Time in Jail?

What is the proper understanding of Romans 13? This episode of the Out of the Question Podcast focuses on the author of the Book of Romans and how his life reflected the doctrine he taught.

If you want to change the world like Paul did, expect to pay the price as he did.

REAL victory doesn’t come cheap.

The Heart of a Dog

In June, when Black Lives Matter riots erupted in American cities, conservatives began rereading Tom Wolfe for insides on race relations. I, too, dusted off my copy of Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers. But once BLM and Antifa moved on to toppling monuments, I wanted a different kind of wisdom, something that dissects not the hypocrisy and venality of the “social justice” mindset, but the phenomenal stupidity of revolutionary consciousness. So I reached for one of the most extraordinary works of Soviet-period Russian literature, Mikhail Bulgakov’s Heart of a Dog.

Bulgakov was born in 1891 in Kiev, son of a theology professor, and a grandson of two Orthodox clergymen. He graduated from a medical faculty, quickly embarking on a successful career as a doctor. He started writing during the civil war that followed the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, and soon left the medical profession entirely.

Despite the frankly reactionary themes of his work, Bolshevik censors permitted publication of some of the writer’s books and production of his plays. Throughout the 1920s in particular his plays were the major draw of the Moscow Art Theater, practically keeping it alive. It took authorities another decade to raise a generation of socialist writers, and in the meantime they had to settle for the likes of Bulgakov.

Skewering the Revolutionary Consciousness by Katya Sedgwick

Interesting, that even when Lenin and Stalin was alive, a few reactionaries were permitted to continue breathing.

Sure, the book review sounds great: but really, I just like the book’s title. A perfect fit for our deeply sentimental Betters, and their profound concern for the Lower Classes.

Covid Media Mania: Sports Edition

The road back, starting in early May with soccer in Germany, seemed fraught with peril, as critics—including sportswriters, medical experts, players, and politicians—warned that it was dangerous and irresponsible to start up again. Since then, the coronavirus has loomed heavily over the coverage of pro sports, with practically every case of a player testing positive making headlines.

What’s received much less attention, however, are the medical outcomes. Despite hundreds of thousands of tests, vanishingly few serious cases have been reported among professional athletes. Most players testing positive had apparently few or no symptoms. Considering the fears and uncertainties the leagues have faced, it’s a remarkable story—one that much of the media has strangely seemed uninterested in telling. Why?

The Covid Story That Sports Media Won’t Tell by Steven Malanga

The media and the State both have their interests served by a panicked and terrified population.

Neither is happy with a population at peace, productively going about their business.

Virtually all this reporting exclusively involved positive tests. But even calling these “cases,” as the media often do, is a stretch, because that implies disease or a condition where medical treatment is needed. The truth: actual cases have been rare, at least as far as we know.

[…]

Given the media alarm about mere positive results, it’s unlikely that many actual cases would have gone unreported in the press, especially if they involved something as serious as hospitalizations. Yet searching worldwide databases of news articles, one can find few accounts of professional athletes who developed anything remotely approaching grave sickness. In March, 30-year-old Brazilian soccer player Dorielton, playing in China’s second division of professional soccer, was hospitalized after falling sick while away in Bangok after his league suspended play due to the virus. In late April, 23-year-old French soccer player Junior Sambia was hospitalized for Covid while Ligue I was suspended; doctors later placed him in an induced coma. He recovered and returned to training with his team in mid-June.

But with each new stage in the worldwide return-to-play, the media’s largely speculative panic has amped up.

There must be hundreds of thousands of professional players, counting all professional sports worldwide. But the amount of real coronavirus cases of material impact – as opposed to symptom-less incidents – are less than the number of fingers on two hands.

Maybe one hand!

Exactly why sports media have been so uninterested in the success that most leagues have had in getting started again is unclear—but many fans have noticed. Clay Travis, the radio host, sportswriter, and founder of the iconoclastic sports website Outkick, has dubbed sports journalists who relentlessly lobby to shut down sports “coronabros.” In a Twitter poll he hosted, some 77 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that sports media are “rooting against sports coming back.”

[…]

Maybe with the NFL’s heavier-than-average players, or with cold-weather virus conditions returning in Europe and the U.S., the media’s coronabros will yet have their day. Still, it’s striking to watch a substantial part of the sports media bet against itself and the industry that it covers. Between the hyper-politicization of the players themselves and the media’s apparent desire to shut down the games, it’s a strange time to be a sports fan.

Conformity with their peers and pleasing the powerful is what’s truly important to sports journalists.

And not sports itself, nor the fans.

Politics and Power FIRST!

Obey the leaders!

All By Myself

Nobody wants to be all by themselves.

At least, not forever and forever.

Being cut off from God forever is the essence of damnation, hell, and the lake of fire.

Far better, to exalt in Jesus as your Lord, and have your name in the Book of Life!

And to have His Holy Spirit in your heart, forever.

The 1620 Project

An interesting article, The 1620 Project by Mark David Hall, gives a decent overview of the Pilgrims and the Puritans — with a decent regard for historical accuracy, and without the infinite contempt of Our Betters.

It’s worth the read, if just to get a decent overview of who the Pilgrims and Puritans were, and their preference for limited governments, tied to local concerns. Both the good and the bad – see “witchcraft trials” – are covered in this survey.


A nod to the 1619 project, carefully ignored in the Chronicles article, should be made. Not so much because I support the goals of the 1619 people, but because both the good and the bad of history should be brought to light.

“Basic justice, you know.”

All the facts. Not just selected slices of the truth, which so happens to support your position.”

Quora: Which American Puritans objected to slavery?

Sara Matthews, Teacher/Student American history, American literature and ELL

While there’s been some discussion on this, general opinion is that American Puritans did not object to slavery and there were certainly slaveowners among them – including prominent ministers of Puritanism. Massachusetts was early on a major site for importation of slaves.

Searching for those Puritans opposed to slavery, you could consider Phyllis Wheatley as certainly a voice raised against slavery in that she was a person of deep Calvinist faith but she herself had been taken as a child in Africa and brought to Massachusetts as a slave and thus had a very personal perspective on slavery.

Among European Puritans, Roger Williams’ name has traditionally been offered up as a more enlightened person and his life was a clearly a journey of changing thought and opinion on traditional matters. In recent years, however, historical perspective on Roger Williams has evidenced its own journey of changing thought and opinion and Rhode Island’s citizens have engaged a serious discussion as to how they want to present their founder to themselves and outsiders.

John Aronsson, Lawyer

The Puritans who governed the New England colonies recognized two kinds of slavery, English common law slavery and bond slavery.

Under the common law, the term slave described a person’s civil status and the only lawful slaves were those who voluntarily sold themselves into slavery or were persons captured in a just war.

It is interesting to note that English common law slavery appears to have been identical to the slavery practiced by the Algonquins. So, just as the English made slaves of their Algonquin captives so the Algonquins made slaves of their English captives.

Common law slaves could not own property and they could be rented out or sold. But they retained basic civil rights; they could petition the magistrates or the town meeting for redress of grievances, owners could not intentionally injure or mistreat their slaves and if they did, the magistrates or courts could order the slave be freed and damages paid. They enjoyed essentially the same rights as an indentured servant. A child born to a slave woman inherited its civil status from its father. The child was born a slave only if its father was a slave. If the father was unknown, the child was usually presumed to be free. In Virginia in 1661 a chid of an African slave sued for his freedom on these grounds and was freed by an English jury .

Bond or chattel slavery, a form of slavery where the slave had no civil rights, was forbidden in the Massachusetts Body of Liberties of 1641. In 1646, a Dutch ship landed six African slaves in Boston. The magistrates seized them and returned them to Guinea with a note of apology saying that the Bay Colony would not countenance “manstealing.” To discourage all kinds of slavery, the General Court required slave owners post a bond for each slave in the amount of £50.

It does appear that in practice, bond slaves in New England enjoyed the same rights as common law slaves and indentured servants. The cases of Elizabeth Freeman (Mum Bett) and Quock Walker, which ended all slavery in Massachusetts in 1781, were pleaded on common law grounds and decided with reference to the new Massachusetts constitution which proclaimed that all men are born free and equal.

However, other Puritan merchant adventures, and the were a lot of them, in Bermuda, Barbados and Caribbean sugar plantations readily adopted the colonial bond slavery laws allowed by the Board of Trade after 1662.