Should Scientists Play God?

The quote below is from Should Scientists Play God? MIT Biological Engineer Says YES! by Emily Reeves

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That’s the topic raised in a recent TEDx talk by Dr. Erika DeBenedictis, an MIT doctoral graduate in biological engineering. Before you read any further, I encourage you to watch her 11-minute TEDx talk:

Dr. DeBenedictis takes a bold approach in the video, stating that scientists should play God. “Biology is imperfect,” she says. “Let’s make it better.” Her position, in short, is that biology is not well-designed and that, given the opportunity, scientists can and should finally “intelligently design” life.

She’s a likeable, enthusiastic, young scientist whose motivation for “playing God” seems to come from ambitious goals to change the world for good. As a recent PhD graduate myself, I identify with much of what DeBenedictis is trying to do and am equally enthusiastic about advancing applications of biological research.

And yet, I do not think that scientists should “play God.” As I hope to demonstrate in a series of posts, there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that biology is, in fact, incredibly well-designed. There is much we still do not know about biology, and labeling something as “poor design” often occurs when biological mechanisms are misunderstood (I will provide historical examples). Setting goals of making biology “better” without first undertaking a deep investigation into the biology could be very unwise. So how then should biological engineering move forward? By focusing on mimicking the design in biology we can improve human engineering and learn how to exploit nature safely for our unique purposes. Additionally, by recognizing the good design in biology when random mutation has corrupted it, we can also mobilize human intervention to restore that design.

Ever Heard of a Non Sequitur?

Here’s one. Dr. DeBenedictis makes the following statement.

Organisms are absolutely the most sophisticated machines we know of and they came about after 4 billion years of random chance.

Do you see it? The second statement (“4 billion years of random chance”) is hard to reconcile with, and hardly follows from, the first (“Organisms are absolutely the most sophisticated machines we know of”).

Commitment to evolutionary theory creates this sort of confusion in the natural sciences. Scientists observe “the most sophisticated machines we know of” in the natural world, with complexity and efficiency exceeding even the best examples of human engineering. But we are told to reconcile our observations within the consensus view that biology is the result of “4 billion years of random chance.” My perception is that DeBenedictis, like many others, has ignored the cognitive dissonance that commitment to “random chance” creates and has instead tried to rationalize theproblem by looking for “poor design” in biology.

It’s Not Her Fault

This is what the academy teaches. Mutation (directed or random) can modify existing information when a strong “selective pressure” is present. This was nicely demonstrated by Dr. DeBenedictis with a directed evolution experiment she conducted using her intelligently designed Phage-and-Robotics-Assisted Near-Continuous Evolution (PRANCE) platform. But the creative power of mutation and selection in biology has been overestimated and few seem willing to acknowledge the limits. Despite little acknowledgement, the discipline of engineering (including the design of PRANCE) depends on intelligent design and foresight for all novel large scale innovations, thus testifying that no sophisticated machines outside of biology have an origin aside from intelligent design. Given that biology contains the “most sophisticated machines we know of,” a consistent explanation derived from observations of human engineering would be that biological machines are also the result of intelligent design.

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Humans are born to take dominion, and they are going to do it – in a lawful or lawless fashion.

Either earning our stripes, day after day, in humble service… or impatiently grabbing power, serving nothing and nobody except ourselves.

The Intersectionality Wars

If you want to understand a concept, why not look at the source material?

In my conversations with right-wing critics of intersectionality, I’ve found that what upsets them isn’t the theory itself. Indeed, they largely agree that it accurately describes the way people from different backgrounds encounter the world. The lived experiences — and experiences of discrimination — of a black woman will be different from those of a white woman, or a black man, for example. They object to its implications, uses, and, most importantly, its consequences, what some conservatives view as the upending of racial and cultural hierarchies to create a new one.

But Crenshaw isn’t seeking to build a racial hierarchy with black women at the top. Through her work, she’s attempting to demolish racial hierarchies altogether.

The intersectionality wars
By Jane Coastonjane.coaston@vox.com

I’m not sure if it can be done: certainly, it can’t be done easily.

But if you believe in the intensely Biblical concept of “Equality Under the Law”, then accepting the concept of Intersectionality – and putting the concept to work, in the real world, against racial hierarchies – is worth fighting for.

Even if the fight takes decades, or generations.

And please… no ignorant strawman arguments. Address the actual legal arguments used.

Fully Reversible Puberty Blockers

Our Masters and Thought Overlords are extremely cruel.

Not that Western Christians are going to do a thing about it.

“It might hurt my career if I get involved in this!”

I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if some pointedly non-Christian – but also sane, compassionate, and gutsy – belief system is the one to sweep these intensely evil people off their power perches.

God blesses those who fight for what’s right.
Not murmuring cowards.

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Quora: What lie do you no longer tolerate?

Jean-Marie Valheur, political aficionado & former journalist

The lie that puberty blockers are ‘fully reversible’. They aren’t. Now activists like to portray them as such, because it serves their agenda to portray them as such. “Sure, you can take blockers, it won’t change a thing! You can just, stop at any moment and puberty will proceed exactly as it would have with no ill-effects whatsoever!” Which sounds awfully nice, but isn’t quite true.

The logic behind the whole thing is — you stop puberty for a child with gender issues so they would not have to go through with a changing body that might well upset their dysphoric minds. Makes sense.

Problem is, there is such a thing as delayed puberty happening naturally. And some people would go through puberty at sixteen, eighteen, or older, and develop just fine. Others never do. Take for instance jazz singer Jimmy Scott, who suffered from a condition known as Kallman Syndrome; he never went through puberty physically. As a result, he remained short and never fathered any children.

Now, lets say a child feels like he or she is transgender. They would talk to a psychiatrist and be prescribed puberty blockers at an early age, say, ten years old, before the onset of puberty. Maybe they’d take the blockers for a few years, then at around sixteen, start with HRT, Hormone Replacement Therapy. If they decided, at seventeen, to stop treatment? Chances are the damage would be permanent. Among other issues they would:

  1. Never reach their full potential height, if even close
  2. Have a vastly different bone structure and less bone density, breaking bones more easily
  3. Have smaller, underdeveloped genitalia that may never reach their full potential either and may remain sterile
  4. Their brains may have developed differently due to puberty blockers and hormones not only affecting the body, but also the brain that runs it

There is little known about the long-term effects of this sort of treatment, as it is relatively new. Especially little is known about the effects on the brain, which I say is rather crucial. Not much is known about fertility before and after puberty blockers, either, and it’s a sensitive subject; a detransitioned guy wouldn’t soon own up to the fact that he now has a micropenis, brittle bones and may never grow a beard as a result of treatment.

People who advocate for the rights of transgenders, especially young transgenders, often fail to take into account the very serious side effects hormone treatment and puberty blockers may have. It could permanently stunt one’s growth and physical development in way that are incredibly damaging.

Does a child really have the ability to, at the age of nine or ten, understand how his or her choices may lead to never ever having a biological child of their own? Permanent infertility? Permanently reduced height? I doubt it. And then you basically tell them there is a “way back” if they change their mind, “because puberty blockers are fully reversible”. But there is no way back, and no, they aren’t fully reversible.

They are reversible to a degree if you took them for only a year, or two. But take them for five years, six, maybe even in tandem with HRT for some time? No, there’s no real coming back from that. The damage to one’s body may well be permanent and pointing out the fact that little is known of the long-term physical and mental effects is still controversial… and it shouldn’t be — it should be openly discussed for the benefit of these same trans kids they claim to defend.

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The COVID State: Doctors, Shut Up and Say What We Want You To

From the AIER Article Canadian Doctors Are Being Censored

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April 30th, 2021 the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario put out a highly controversial statement regarding what it considers to be Covid misinformation. The CPSO is a regional regulatory body empowered by statutory law to exercise licensing and disciplinary authority over the practice of medicine in Ontario. Think of it as the equivalent of a State Bar Association for American lawyers except for Canadian doctors. The statement from the CPSO goes as follows,

The College is aware and concerned about the increase of misinformation circulating on social media and other platforms regarding physicians who are publicly contradicting public health orders and recommendations. Physicians hold a unique position of trust with the public and have a professional responsibility to not communicate anti-vaccine, anti-masking, anti-distancing and anti-lockdown statements and/or promoting unsupported, unproven treatments for COVID-19. Physicians must not make comments or provide advice that encourages the public to act contrary to public health orders and recommendations. Physicians who put the public at risk may face an investigation by the CPSO and disciplinary action, when warranted. When offering opinions, physicians must be guided by the law, regulatory standards, and the code of ethics and professional conduct. The information shared must not be misleading or deceptive and must be supported by available evidence and science.

The CPSO justifies its statement with the following rationale,

“There have been isolated incidents of physicians using social media to spread blatant misinformation and undermine public health measures meant to protect all of us.”

This development is nothing short of horrifying. Although there are certainly concerns about the spread of falsehoods and conspiracy theories in the age of Covid-19, this sort of broad censorship of speech from practicing medical professionals is not only an ethical sham but anti-science. The practice of science is premised on the rigorous application of the scientific method which among other things requires falsifiability and debate. The move to silence doctors also flies in the face of liberal democracy – something that has been deteriorating around the world as both the public and private sector move to silence dissent. 

The fact that the CPSO, a licensing body wielding the power of the state, has taken such an aggressive move to silence dissent even on lockdown policies is especially disturbing given that they are preventing doctors from voicing their expertise on such important matters. The Toronto Sun comments on the incident by writing,

“Right now, restrictions are severe in Canada. The public health orders concerning, for example, the closure of basketball courts and golf courses in Ontario have been widely condemned by many physicians.

Why should physicians not speak out against restrictions that they feel are harmful to the health of their patients?

“Despite undeniable suffering due to lockdowns, the CPSO wants Ontario doctors to stay quiet,” wrote Dr. Shawn Whatley, a former president of the Ontario Medical Association, in a guest column in the Sun.”

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It’s not about science.

It’s about obedience.

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he Declaration of Canadian Physicians for Science and Truth

In response to the CPSO’s order, there has rightly been pushback from the Canadian medical community in the form of the Declaration of Canadian Physicians for Science and Truth. The Declaration’s website features a petition that has been signed by over 4,700 physicians and concerned citizens at the time of this writing. 

The declaration lays out three basic complaints with the CPSO’s order. 

  1. Denial of the Scientific Method itself:
  2. Violation of our Pledge to use Evidence-Based Medicine for our patients
  3. Violation of Duty of Informed Consent

More elaboration and information can be found on the Declaration’s website.

Closing Thoughts 

To paraphrase the great human rights activist and Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, what it meant to be a loyal Soviet citizen was to say what you’re supposed to say, to read what you’re permitted to read, and to vote the way you’re supposed to vote, and to know it was all a lie. 

It doesn’t take a background in medicine to know that the censorship of medical professionals during a pandemic is the last thing that should be happening. There is no better time for rigorous debate on the efficacy of public health measures than now with unprecedented and unproven lockdown policies being forced on populations worldwide. 

Some may say that we can trust that freedom of speech will be restored and that censorship is necessary to expedite the end of the pandemic. This is abundantly flawed for two reasons. The first being the idea that Canadian doctors must conform to the vision of the state and not question it. This is not only a violation of their duty as medical practitioners and scientists but deeply crippling to a sound public health response. Finally, this move is fundamentally opposed to the values of liberal democracy which have now been jeopardized on a global scale. With the lights of an enlightened and modern civilization going out across the world, it would be fair to ask, will they ever be turned back on in our lifetime?

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It’s not about the Health of the People.

It’s about Shut Up and Obey Powerful Men.

Incorporation

Not only should the church fight for the freedom of incorporated existence, but Christians need to establish a wide variety of Christian foundations to meet their wide-flung responsibilities in Christ. Educational foundations to further the promotion of Biblical faith and knowledge are needed. Christian charitable trusts to minister to the needs of the poor, prisoners, the sick, delinquents, and more are urgently needed. Hospitals are a product of Christian corporate activity to minister to human need; they were once all Christian. There is a need to reclaim this ministry which, in humanistic hands, has become increasingly a problem.

Christian corporations or foundations were once the ministries in the spheres of health, education, and welfare, and there is a growing return to responsibilities in these areas. These agencies use God’s tax, the tithe, to exercise government in key spheres of life in the name of Christ. They are outside the sphere of statist taxation and control, because they are areas of Christ’s Kingdom and government.

We have a weak doctrine of corporation today because we have a weak doctrine of the body of our Lord, and of communion. If we limit the doctrine of corporation to the institutional church, we limit the scope of Christ’s work in the world. To incorporate means to give body to something; we need to incorporate our faith into the total context of our world and to minister and govern in our various spheres in Christ’s name and power.

Incorporation
By R. J. Rushdoony
Chalcedon Position Paper No. 50, May 1984

It’s time to Christianize the world.

The Kingdom of God must expand, starting today. And Christians are called to put their back into it.

The Kingdom of God must expand, not at the point of a gun — “Who do you think you are? Marxists?” — but with good works and a robust expansion of an era of liberty and co-operation, without grovelling before the fake-god Universal Institutional State, or a fake-god Universal Institutional Church.

I assume that as the Body of Christ, we will not be so stupid as to worship ourselves, but only our head, Jesus Christ.

Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit works through the renewing of the mind. We must therefore be disciplined in our thinking according to what Scripture teaches. And Scripture does not teach Reformation. It teaches Exodus. There have been no Reformations in the history of the Church, only Exoduses and new beginnings.

But there is an even greater danger waiting for us here than merely being led astray in our language and thinking, namely, that at least for a great many Christians the real reason they refuse to leave Egypt is that they have made an idol out of it and they prefer idolatry to liberty, because as John Owen so aptly put it, the Church is the greatest idol that ever was in the world.

The Reformation never happened. The Reformers wanted it, desperately, but they did not get it. They asked God for a stone, but he gave them bread instead (Mt. 7:9). “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Mt. 7:11). We need an Exodus not a Reformation, and we need to pray for an Exodus not a Reformation, because God will not give us a Reformation and we need to pray according to Scripture and God’s will.

CHRISTIAN RENAISSANCE: WHY THERE NEVER WAS A REFORMATION
Stephen C. Perks

COVID as Power Ploy

How science has been corrupted: The pandemic has revealed a darkly authoritarian side to expertise by Matthew Crawford

As a practical matter, “politicised science” is the only kind there is (or rather, the only kind you are likely to hear about). But it is precisely the apolitical image of science, as disinterested arbiter of reality, that makes it such a powerful instrument of politics. This contradiction is now out in the open. The “anti-science” tendencies of populism are in significant measure a response to the gap that has opened up between the practice of science and the ideal that underwrites its authority. As a way of generating knowledge, it is the pride of science to be falsifiable (unlike religion).

Yet what sort of authority would it be that insists its own grasp of reality is merely provisional? Presumably, the whole point of authority is to explain reality and provide certainty in an uncertain world, for the sake of social coordination, even at the price of simplification. To serve the role assigned it, science must become something more like religion.

The chorus of complaints about a declining “faith in science” states the problem almost too frankly. The most reprobate among us are climate sceptics, unless those be the Covid deniers, who are charged with not obeying the science. If all this has a medieval sound, it ought to give us pause.

[…]

In The Revolt of the Public, former intelligence analyst Martin Gurri traces the roots of a “politics of negation” that has engulfed Western societies, tied to a wholesale collapse of authority across all domains ­— politics, journalism, finance, religion, science. He blames it on the internet. Authority has always been located in hierarchical structures of expertise, guarded by accreditation and long apprenticeship, whose members develop a “reflexive loathing of the amateur trespasser”.

For authority to be really authoritative, it must claim an epistemic monopoly of some kind, whether of priestly or scientific knowledge. In the 20th century, especially after the spectacular successes of the Manhattan Project and the Apollo moon landing, there developed a spiral wherein the public came to expect miracles of technical expertise (flying cars and moon colonies were thought to be imminent). Reciprocally, stoking expectations of social utility is normalised in the processes of grant-seeking and institutional competition that are now inseparable from scientific practice.

The system was sustainable, if uneasily so, as long as inevitable failures could be kept offstage. This required robust gatekeeping, such that the assessment of institutional performance was an intra-elite affair (the blue-ribbon commission; peer review), allowing for the development of “informal pacts of mutual protection”, as Gurri puts it. The internet, and the social media which disseminate instances of failure with relish, have made such gatekeeping impossible. That is the core of the very parsimonious and illuminating argument by which Gurri accounts for the revolt of the public.

In recent years, a replication crisis in science has swept aside a disturbing number of the findings once thought robust in many fields. This has included findings that lie at the foundation of whole research programs and scientific empires, now crumbled. The reasons for these failures are fascinating, and provide a glimpse into the human element of scientific practice.

[…]

The all-important process of peer review depends on disinterestedness, as well as competence. “Since about the middle of the 20th century, however, the costs of research and the need for teams of cooperating specialists have made it increasingly difficult to find reviewers who are both directly knowledgeable and also disinterested; truly informed people are effectively either colleagues or competitors.”

[…]

One of the most striking features of the present, for anyone alert to politics, is that we are increasingly governed through the device of panics that give every appearance of being contrived to generate acquiescence in a public that has grown skeptical of institutions built on claims of expertise. And this is happening across many domains. Policy challenges from outsiders presented through fact and argument, offering some picture of what is going on in the world that is rival to the prevailing one, are not answered in kind, but are met rather with denunciation. In this way, epistemic threats to institutional authority are resolved into moral conflicts between good people and bad people.

My response?

The quest to control the Inferiors never ends.

(Well, actually it will end after Our Betters have bankrupted the state, via the welfare policies. But you know what I mean.)

There is surely some point of hazard beyond which liberal principles become an unaffordable luxury. Covid is indeed a very serious illness, with an infection fatality rate about ten times higher than that of the flu: roughly one percent of all those who are infected die. Also, however, unlike the flu this mortality rate is so skewed by age and other risk factors, varying by more than a thousand-fold from the very young to the very old, that the aggregate figure of one percent can be misleading. As of November 2020, the average age of those killed by Covid in Britain was 82.4 years old.

In July of 2020, 29 % of British citizens believed that “6-10 percent or higher” of the population had already been killed by Covid. About 50% of those polled had a more realistic estimate of 1%. The actual figure was about one tenth of one percent. So the public’s perception of the risk of dying of Covid was inflated by one to two orders of magnitude. This is highly significant.

Our masters live by lies.

Just like their Master does.

Public opinion matters in the West far more than in China. Only if people are sufficiently scared will they give up basic liberties for the sake of security – this is the basic formula of Hobbes’s Leviathan. Stoking fear has long been an essential element of the business model of mass media, and this appears to be on a trajectory of integration with state functions in the West, in a tightening symbiosis. While the Chinese government resorts to external coercion, in the West coercion must come from inside; from a mental state in the individual. The state is nominally in the hands of people elected to serve as representatives of the people, so it cannot be an object of fear. Something else must be the source of fear, so the state may play the role of saving us. But playing this role requires that state power be directed by experts.

Early in 2020, public opinion accepted the necessity of a short-term suspension of basic liberties on the supposition that, once the emergency had passed, we could go back to being not-China. But this is to assume a robustness of liberal political culture that may not be warranted. Lord Sumption, a jurist and retired member of the UK’s Supreme Court, makes a case for regarding lockdowns in the West as the crossing of a line that is not likely to get uncrossed. In an interview with Freddie Sayers at UnHerd, he points out that, by law, the government has broad powers to act under emergency. “There are many things governments can do, which it is generally accepted they should not do. And one of them, until last March, was to lock up healthy people in their homes.”

Our Leaders really do like putting the Inferiors in their place.

“For their own good.”

Well, no matter. The lies will flow until the welfare money runs out, and there are no treats to toss to the dogs.

That is when things get interesting.

The job of the Christian church is to be ready and able to step in, when the States casually flings the now-worthless “The government will heal and feed you!” canard into the trash can.

We are called to give a hand to the poor and the weak. With the poor tithe, we can meet the duties our forefathers ignored, and gain the ground our forefathers threw away.

“Following the science” to minimise certain risks while ignoring others absolves us of exercising our own judgment, anchored in some sense of what makes life worthwhile. It also relieves us of the existential challenge of throwing ourselves into an uncertain world with hope and confidence. A society incapable of affirming life and accepting death will be populated by the walking dead, adherents of a cult of the demi-life who clamour for ever more guidance from experts.

It has been said, a people gets the government it deserves.

Matthew Crawford is not far from seeing things as they really are.


Extra info:

Covid Deaths Plummet as Excess Mortality Falls to Pre-Covid Levels

Just more news you aren’t going to get from the mainstream media.

Leadership, Biblical

This is a fast bunch of excerpts from my other blog post Leadership, Biblical and Imperial. I just strip out all of my commentary here, leaving only Gary North’s words. The quotes are all taken from The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership.


Who’s in charge here?
To whom do I report?
What are the rules?
What do I get if I obey? Disobey?
Does this outfit have a future?

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Introduction
Gary North

[After quoting Matthew 6:25-34]

The conclusion is crucial for the completion of the mission: “Therefore, do not be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day has enough evil of its own.” This describes the psychology of the ideal Christian leader: a highly long-term planner with highly short-term fears.

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 1: Mission

This brings me to a fundamental principle of biblical leadership: a leader needs self-confidence. This is not autonomous confidence. On the contrary, it is confidence based on the Christian leader’s belief that he has been specially called by God to exercise institutional authority in a specific office or position.

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 1: Mission

Joseph was elevated to leadership, but not in a straight line. He was put in a pit. He was sold to slave traders. He was placed in bondage. He prospered as a slave, as did his owner. He gained operational authority in the family’s hierarchy. He was then put in prison. He prospered as a prisoner, as did the warden. His responsibility increased with each seeming setback. The more he submitted, the higher he rose. This is the essence of the process of redemption in history. The model is Christ.

[…]

Leadership is a process. It requires subordination to lawful authority. “Do not act as a master over the people who are in your care. Instead, be an example to the flock. Then when the Chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive an unfading crown of glory. In the same way, you younger men, submit to the older men. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility and serve one another. For God resists the proud, but he gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:3–5). Leadership also involves finding a place of service: a mission field. Then the leader must await positive sanctions. Negative sanctions are deceptive. They are tests. The biblical pattern is this: positive sanctions are more powerful than negative sanctions as sources of historical causation . . . for obedient covenant-keepers. This is not the pattern for covenant-breakers.

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 1: Mission

Here is my point. History reflects eternity. The pattern of the sanctions in eternity is reflected in the pattern of sanctions in history (Deuteronomy 28).

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 1: Mission

Point 5 of the biblical covenant model is succession. Men die. They are succeeded. Institutions also die. They are succeeded. This is not true of the institutional church, the bride of Christ. It is unique in this respect. It extends into eternity. The kingdom of God is also eternal. This is the civilization of God. It is the extension of the work of covenant-keepers. It will never be succeeded.

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 1: Mission

Leadership is hierarchical: upward and downward. An individual owes allegiance to his superior in a chain of command. He also acts as an agent of those under his authority. Most people can understand this arrangement by considering the structure of leadership in a military chain of command. A second lieutenant owes allegiance to his first lieutenant, who in turn owes allegiance to his captain. But the second lieutenant also must consider the needs of his men. A wise second lieutenant in battle recognizes that he has three priorities, in this order: (1) completing the mission assigned by his superior officer; (2) getting his men back to camp safely; (3) getting himself back to camp safely. This is a hierarchy based on honor. It is based on the principle of sacrifice by the leader.

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 1: Mission

The hierarchy of command is simultaneously a system of concentric circles. We speak of someone being at the top of a pyramid of power. We also speak of him as occupying the center of the inner ring. We use both metaphors: pyramid and ring. We understand that someone who occupies a high position in a chain of command also occupies a central position in a circle of influence. Power is transmitted downward. It is also transmitted outward.

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 1: Mission

There is an inescapable link between leadership and personal responsibility. This responsibility is innately hierarchical. Someone owes allegiance to those above him in a chain of command. He also has obligations to those people under his authority. God judges everyone in terms of a performance standard: upward and downward.

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 1: Mission

The New Testament warns against the pursuit of both power and riches. Jesus’ reply to James and John made clear what the basis of power should be in Christian circles: service. The New Testament does not describe an explicitly Christian means of attaining riches, but in a free market economy, the means is also service: service to paying customers. Service is therefore the key to accumulating both power and money. As for fame, Peter warned: “For all flesh is like grass, and all its glory is like the wild flower of the grass. The grass dries up, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:24).

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 2: Service

Point 2 of the biblical covenant model is authority. Authority is always delegated from God, who is sovereign (point 1). All authority is hierarchical. All authority involves representation. A leader represents those under his authority to those over him. He also represents those over him to those under him. Leadership is therefore always mediatorial.

How does this apply to biblical leadership? I begin with God. (In theological matters, as well as all other matters, always begin with God.) God created man to lead. He also created man to obey. Mankind must obey God. Individuals must obey those who possess lawful authority over them. God requires this (Romans 13:1–7).

Authority is always delegated from God, who is sovereign (point 1). All authority is hierarchical. All authority involves representation. A leader represents those under his authority to those over him. He also represents those over him to those under him. Leadership is therefore always mediatorial.

Our lives begin as infants in need of assistance. We begin under parental authority. This means that parents possess lawful authority on this basis: service to their children. They are stewards before God. God owns everything, but He owns it covenantally, meaning hierarchically. He has delegated to parents the responsibility of bringing up their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” as the King James Version puts it (Ephesians 6:4). So, with respect to parental authority, there is a covenantal link between sacrifice and leadership. When their financial support of their children ceases, so does their parental authority to command their children’s obedience.

I find it helpful to distinguish between trusteeship and stewardship. Trusteeship is a legal category. A trustee has been granted legal authority by a trust document to act in the name of a beneficiary. A civil court upholds this legal authority. But the court reserves the right to intervene on behalf of the beneficiary if the trustee abuses his authority by not acting in the best interests of the beneficiary. The trustee must act on behalf of the beneficiary. So, I speak of trusteeship as acting in the name of the beneficiary. I speak of stewardship as acting on behalf of the beneficiary. The two activities are linked, but they are conceptually separate.

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 2: Service

Parents are legal trustees. Trustees act legally in their children’s names. Parents are also economic stewards. They act on behalf of their children. Point 2 is authority. Authority is always hierarchical. Hierarchy involves representation. Representation is two-way: upward and downward. So, parents act in the name of God as legal trustees of their children, and they act on behalf of God as economic stewards. Covenant-breaking parents may not acknowledge their legal position as legal trustees and economic stewards of God, but they are nonetheless. This covenantal arrangement is hierarchical: God> parents> children. This is a stewardship structure.

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 2: Service

There is another important distinction: the distinction between power and influence. If I possess the legal authority to impose sanctions on someone, I possess power. If I do not have institutional authority over someone, but that person is willing to do voluntarily what I recommend, I possess influence. Both power and influence are forms of leadership. Power involves greater responsibility than influence. A person with power can impose sanctions. He represents the institution that possesses the power to impose sanctions. He therefore acts in the name of the institution. In some cases, he can be held legally liable by a civil court for what he commands and the effects of these commands on those under his authority.

When someone accepts a position of leadership, his goal should not be to keep those under his authority in a state of permanent servitude. His goal is to help them increase their productivity. This is especially true in a business. This outlook surely applies to the military, especially on the battlefield. Someone who commands troops wants them to improve their performance on the job. This is how the members of the unit will be able to complete their missions and come back alive. Squad leaders get promoted when those under their command outperform other units. A leader who cares for his men will do whatever he can to improve their performance. Those under his command will perform better when he masters the skills associated with improving the performance of his unit. They appreciate being part of a unit that has a reputation for being the best.

A leader should care emotionally for those under his authority. He should therefore take care of them. Caring is an aspect of stewardship. It is in addition to trusteeship. There is no way institutionally to enforce caring. Caring is emotional. It is subjective. In contrast, trusteeship is objective. It can be enforced. Conclusion: caring is not an inherent aspect of trusteeship. The categories are separate. A leader who sees himself as a steward—someone who is acting on behalf of his subordinates—wants to see them prosper, however the organization defines and rewards increased individual output. He also wants to see the team prosper. He deals with individuals (the many) and the team (the one). He seeks to promote the success of individuals as a way to promote the success of the team. He acts on behalf of the team’s individuals, but always in the name of the team.

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 2: Service

Jesus had already announced this principle of sacrifice. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired servant is not a shepherd and does not own the sheep. He sees the wolf coming and abandons the sheep and escapes, and the wolf carries them off and scatters them. He runs away because he is a hired servant and does not care for the sheep” (John 10:11–13). He made the distinction between a hired servant and a shepherd. We do not expect hirelings to show exceptional courage in defense of those under their authority.

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 2: Service

What about day-to-day leadership? The same principle applies. The leader should be willing to suffer the loss of his position on behalf of his subordinates when they are threatened by a corporate policy that undermines the integrity of the organization, and by extension, their moral integrity. Senior managers should take seriously the opposition of any leader who is willing to put his career on the line on behalf of his subordinates. They should be willing to re-think the policy. An organization that is staffed by managers who have this degree of loyalty to those under their command will be highly competitive. The organization will gain the support of the employees, from bottom to top. Such support cannot be purchased with money. This is another reason why the famous bottom line should not be judged solely by profit-and-loss statements and balance sheets. There is more to life than money. There is more to leadership than money.

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 2: Service

Two people work better than one; together they can earn a good pay for their labor. For if one falls, the other can lift up his friend. However, sorrow follows the one who is alone when he falls if there is no one to lift him up (Ecclesiastes 4:9–10).

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 3: Teamwork

Modern management practices rarely allow for years of team-based training. It assumes that formal classroom training in a graduate school of business can be safely substituted for years of training on a face-to-face basis in a specialized team. Classroom training equips a leader in matters numerical, but it does not prepare him to empower members of a team. Without strong support from members of his team, he will not maximize his team’s level of performance, which means its responsibility. He does not make full use of the efficacy of the division of labor.

The model is God in the garden. On day one, he assigned Adam a task: naming the animals. He remained close at hand until this task was completed (Genesis 2). Then He departed. Adam and Eve were left alone to extend their dominion (Genesis 3). Only after their rebellion did God return to impose judgment. “They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8a). I call this management by walking away. The same management model was described by Jesus in the parable of the stewards (Luke 19; Matthew 25). The master prepared to go on a journey. He handed out capital to his stewards: coins. He let each of them decide how to invest these coins. He did not assign a specific portfolio to each steward. Two of the stewards turned out to be profitable investors. The third did not. The owner had suspected that this would be the case. He allocated more coins to the two stewards he thought might perform well. The third steward received only one coin. He buried it. He was a loser, just as the owner had suspected. The owner then announced a fundamental principle of biblical management. “For to everyone who possesses, more will be given—even more abundantly. But from anyone who does not possess anything, even what he does have will be taken away. Throw the worthless servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth” (Matthew 25:29–30). This principle of rewards in history and eternity is the opposite of equality of economic outcomes. Matthew’s version of Jesus’ parable of the three stewards is the most powerful biblical repudiation of the welfare state’s standard of equality of outcomes through government-imposed wealth redistribution.

The biblical model is absentee management of well-trained workers. The apostles after Jesus’ resurrection are the operational model. This will be the management system beyond the grave in the new heaven and new earth. To make a preliminary version of this management system work well in history, the owner must adopt a predictable system of rewards and punishments (point 4). The workers must be highly motivated to produce. They must be self-motivated. The less self-governed they are, the more tightly they must be managed. Micromanaging absorbs a manager’s personal resources that could be put to more productive uses. It does not empower team members.

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 3: Teamwork

Do you see a man skilled at his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before common people (Proverbs 22:29).

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 4: Mastery

Despite what is obvious in these passages on glorifying God with our work, the vast majority of Christians do not pay close attention to the quality of their work. They are among the 80% of the members of any society who produce about 20% of the output. Among this multitude of negligent servants of God, a few may set aside one area of their lives where they strive to excel, such as a hobby. But they do not strive, from morning to night, to improve their performance in their jobs and callings. They do not adopt a program of systematic self-improvement in even one area of their lives, sticking with it all of their lives.

This is a widespread attitude among Christians. “Jesus died for my sins. He has forgiven me. Therefore, with respect to my mediocre work, you must also forgive me.” They do not say this openly, but it governs almost everything they do. It is a mindset. They do not worry that their work is substandard. They pay little attention to its quality. They assume that it is good enough. But, if challenged by their employers or by their customers, they deeply resent the criticism. After all, they think to themselves, “it’s good enough for Jesus, so it should be good enough for you.” It never occurs to them that their work is not good enough for Jesus, nor is their attitude of just getting by.

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 4: Mastery

It is worth noting that the Protestant pietist tradition arose in the English-speaking West, which became the richest culture in the world after 1800. What the typical pietist has regarded as bare economic subsistence, somehow favorable to spiritual holiness, the rest of the world has regarded as great wealth.

In stark contrast to pietism was the founder of Methodism, John Wesley (1703–1791). Here was his advice in Sermon 50, “The Use of Money.” First, gain all you can. Second, save all you can. Third, give all you can. His once poverty-stricken British and American followers believed him. They took his advice. Within a century, they were middle class. Within two centuries, they were upper middle class. This is the biblical pattern.

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 4: Mastery

A Christian would be wise to review this passage [Romans 8:28-32] whenever he begins any project or whenever he gets stuck on some aspect of an existing project. Put in modern slang, “God has your back.” We are not in control, but He is. A problem may baffle us, but it does not baffle Him.

God has a program of success that applies to every area of life. I wrote a book on this: The Five Pillars of Biblical Success (2008). This model works. Cause and effect are unified because of God’s providence. We do not live in a chaotic universe. We live in an ordered universe. It is ordered by the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity. Paul wrote: “The Son is the image of the invisible God. He is the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, those in the heavens and those on the earth, the visible and the invisible things. Whether thrones or dominions or governments or authorities, all things were created by him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15–17).

In contrast is a covenant-breaker who denies God’s providence. He denies that the universe is personally controlled by an omniscient, omnipotent God. He believes in cause and effect, but he cannot explain how this system works and how he is able to understand it. He cannot say why he is confident that there is a program of self-mastery that brings success in history, project by project. He may be self-confident, but he cannot defend his self-confidence with a coherent theory of cause and effect. This puts him at a disadvantage when he competes against a Christian who has spent years disciplining himself in order to attain mastery in the same field. This is not to say that he will lose every competition. But, with regard to the issue of mastery, people are looking for a pattern of success. The covenant-breaker who does not accept the Bible’s doctrine of providence cannot plausibly assert that God has his back.

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 4: Mastery

You must not make for yourself a carved figure nor the likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water below. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God. I punish the ancestors’ wickedness by bringing punishment on the descendants, to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me. But I show covenant faithfulness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments (Exodus 20:4–6).

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 5: Inheritance

I think sin-filled history will end in much less than a thousand generations. Why? Because of my confidence in the long-term expansion of Christianity’s influence in society. The disparity in God’s visible blessings between Christian civilization and its rivals will become immense if the promised compounding process of Christian cultural expansion continues. Such a discrepancy would make ludicrous the final rebellion of Satan at the end of time (Revelation 20). So, because I take seriously the promises of success for covenant-keepers, I prefer to interpret “thousands of generations” figuratively. Another reason is this: the text of the Bible indicates that God created the world around 4,000 B.C. The covenantal story in the Bible took only 4,000 years. Why will it take 120,000 years to work out the implications of sin versus redemption? Finally, how will anyone remember all the important events of 120,000 years? We can barely make sense of the past since Jesus’ time. My conclusion: today’s sin-filled world does not have 80,000 to 120,000 years ahead of it. Then when will time end? Nobody knows.

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 5: Inheritance

I hope I now have your attention. I am going to draw a conclusion that will now seem almost self-evident. The Bible says clearly that covenant-breaking societies do not survive intact for long, at least not when compared with how long Christian civilization has survived and will survive. The contrast is between three or four generations versus this (minimum): until the end of time. God has clearly spoken to His people. He has said that, compared to the society that bears His name, all societies are short-lived. They will not stand the test of time. Why not? Because God controls time. He brings negative sanctions against covenant-breakers and covenant-breaking societies.

This time frame is important for understanding the biblical concept of leadership. Biblical leadership is not supposed to last for only one generation. It is not “one and done.” It is inter-generational. It is inter-generational for thousands of generations, say the Ten Commandments. If you do not want to take this number literally, then you had better say this: biblical leadership extends until the end of time.

I will put it differently. Any concept of leadership that does not insist on and plan for inter-generational continuity and also growing Christian influence is not biblical. A Christian leader should not mentally restrict the time frame in which his efforts may have positive effects to his own lifetime, or perhaps at most his grandchildren’s lifetime. Such a short time frame is not biblical for Christians. Why? Because it is the curse that God imposes on His enemies: three or four generations.

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 5: Inheritance

Therefore, any group of [unbelievers] has only three or four generations to develop, implement, and extend its collective influence. The group gains the benefits of compound kingdom growth for a brief time: a few generations. Then it fades. In contrast, Christians gain the benefits of compound kingdom growth until the end of time. Compound growth eventually becomes exponential growth: filling the environment, which in this case is the whole world.

How do I know? The Bible tells me so.

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 5: Inheritance

Leadership begins with followership. Exercising authority over others begins with obedience to others. The family is the model. Children obey. Then they learn to take greater responsibility in their lives. Biblical leadership outside the family also begins with self-government: control over what you say. James went into detail on this. What he wrote should be the beginning of every church training program. Leadership begins with self-control over the tongue.

[Snipped: James 3:1-12]

This is step one. After training, and after self-control over the tongue, comes the next step: good works.

[Snipped: James 3:13-18]

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 5: Inheritance

The ability to teach is a mark of a successful leader. I strongly recommend that you learn how to teach.

The Five Pillars of Biblical Leadership, Pillar 5: Inheritance

As Materialism Fades, Panpsychism Rises

Reductionism, Emergence, and Panpsychism

Just another repost from Uncommon Descent

—<Quote begins>—

As U Rochester astrophysicist Adam Frank points out, materialism, in the form of reductionism, posits a world without novelty:

In an article at BigThink, University of Rochester astrophysicist Adam Frank (pictured) argues that reductionism is — for good reasons — fading in science: “Reductionism offers a narrow view of the universe that fails to explain reality.” It is slowly being replaced:

Reductionism is the view that everything true about the world can be explained by atoms and their interactions. Emergence claims that reductionism is wrong, and the world can evolve new stuff and new laws that are not predictable from “nothing but” atoms. Which perspective on science is correct has huge implications, not only for ourselves but for everything from philosophy to economics to politics.

ADAM FRANK, “REDUCTIONISM VS. EMERGENCE: ARE YOU “NOTHING BUT” YOUR ATOMS?” AT BIGTHINK (APRIL 29, 2021)

Frank intends a series of articles at BigThink on why emergence is replacing reductionism. The capsule version is that reductionism reduces everything to the behavior of elementary particles and “describes a world without fundamental novelty or essential innovation.” But that isn’t the world we live in.

And emergence?

As philosophers Brigitte Falkenburg and Margaret Morrison put it, “A phenomenon is emergent if it cannot be reduced to, explained or predicted from its constituent parts… emergent phenomena arise out of lower-level entities, but they cannot be reduced to, explained nor predicted from their micro-level base.” From an emergentist view, over the course of the universe’s history, new entities and even new laws governing those entities have appeared.

ADAM FRANK, “REDUCTIONISM VS. EMERGENCE: ARE YOU “NOTHING BUT” YOUR ATOMS?” AT BIGTHINK (APRIL 29, 2021)

Frank argues that evolution is the creative force that does all this (including evolving new laws?) But it’s not clear that what he means by “evolution” is the garden variety change in life forms over time.

To the extent that emergence marches with panpsychism, it probably is catching on. That means we may see ourselves in different kinds of philosophy of science arguments over evolution.

See also:

Why is science growing comfortable with panpsychism (“everything is conscious”)? At one time, the idea that “everything is conscious” was the stuff of jokes. Not any more, it seems.

and

How a materialist philosopher argued his way to panpsychism. Galen Strawson starts with the one fact of which we are most certain — our own consciousness. To Strawson, it makes more sense to say that consciousness is physical — and that electrons are conscious — than that consciousness is an illusion.

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And a comment:

tjguy May 13, 2021 at 1:20 am

So imagining some sort of mysterious emergence that cannot be tested or demonstrated in any way – that’s fine, but positing intentional creation, that’s not.

Got it! I guess scientists are free to place their faith in anything they want as long as it is within their worldview and has nothing to do with a Creator.

I think tjguy has it exactly right.

For a number of reasons, straight-up Darwinian Atheistic Materialism is becoming increasingly untenable. And, even though Our Leaders still despise God with every fiber in their body, they are no longer confident in their ability to rule. This confidence has been declining since World War I, then again with de-colonialism, and yet again with the end of the Soviet Union.

What confidence they still have will be gone with the death of the welfare state – the Great Default – and the coming Great Demographic Age-out.

That’s when – at the very moment Darwin’s hold on power is broken – the New Faith in the Living Universe will arise. “All scientists agree!”

The Temporary Rise

I expect most Christian Churches will quickly sign on, happy to get on the government payroll again – so long as the “Christ” worshiped at tax-supported churches is understood to be just a local, culturally-accepted face of the real deity, the Spirit of the Cosmos.

A Spirit that is tied to no Transcendent, Unchanging Ethical Code or Sacred Law; that teaches that ALL gods lead to salvation and eternal life; and is surprisingly comfortable with the worship of wood and stone.

And with the out-and-out worship of men as literal gods.
Especially politically powerful men.

Dog goes back to their vomit...

The Permanent Fall

… but this isn’t AD 66.

God isn’t going to be nearly as tolerant of pantheism today, as He was back then.

The Ignorantly Pagan West knew nothing then, so her stripes were few and fairly light…
but still led to hell.

The Willfully Godless West knows far more now, so her stripes will be many and brutal.
And will also lead to hell.

If Darwinism led to the spiritual, moral and intellectual wasteland of today… if Marxism led to the gutting of the real potential of Russia and China (and any other nation that adopted it)… then the destruction awaiting the aging, bankrupt, deluded nations that adopt Panpsychism will be fearsome.

Not as explosive a suicide as Nazi Germany, not the brutal poverty of Communist states.

More like rapid-onset senility, madness, howling incoherence, and death.

ZECHARIAH 14 IN POSTMILLENNIALISM (2)

Some good thinking on Zechariah 14.

God’s people suffered serious pain, in a partial imitation of the pain Christ bore. But they also receive a good future, in a partial imitation of the reward Christ received.

Postmillennial Worldview

Mount Olives split 2PMW 2021-038 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In my last article I began a two-part study on Zechariah 14. Having presented the dispensational view, I will now present a postmillennial interpretation of this famous passage.

The Siege of Jerusalem

The siege of Jerusalem described in Zechariah 14:1–2 points to the AD 70 judgment upon Jerusalem. J. Dwight Pentecost admits that the disciples who hear the Olivet Discourse would naturally apply Zechariah 14 to that event. But then, he says, such requires the confusing of God’s program for the church with that for Israel. So, he and other dispen-sationalists interpret the passage literalistically, with all the topographical and redemptive historical absurdities this creates. As they do this they totally omit any reference to the destruction of the very city and temple being rebuilt in Zechariah’s day. Yet this literal temple (the second temple) is destroyed in AD 70, as all agree.

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Axe: Why Darwinists Hope You Don’t Know Math

From Evolution News:

Mathematics has been at the foundation of modern challenges to neo-Darwinism, while those challenges are met mostly with handwaving. Darwinists have to hope you haven’t thought through the math — which isn’t all that hard to follow, as molecular biologist Douglas Axe demonstrates in an excerpt from his new online course from DiscoveryU, “Douglas Axe Investigates Molecular Biology and Intelligent Design.”

The excerpt is a two-in-one: two short, successive lectures covering “The Challenge of Complex Adaptation for Evolution.” The challenge is insuperable whether you are talking about large, complex organisms (brown bears, for example, or blue whales) or the far, far more numerous and rapidly reproducing case of an oceanic species of bacteria. As Axe explains, he has devoted his own research to bacteria because if unguided evolution is going to work anywhere, it’s got by far it’s best shot there.

Dr. Axe, who is Maxwell Professor of Molecular Biology at Biola University, has a remarkable gift for illuminating issues that evolutionists would greatly prefer to remain darkened from the public’s view. Look here for a detailed outline of the course, which is 40 lectures in length and includes quizzes after each class to make sure students are keeping up with the material. It’s perfect for homeschoolers or adult learners. Watch the excerpt now:

Axe: Why Darwinists Hope You Don’t Know Math by
David Klinghoffer

It’s time for Christians to get serious about the world of the mind: including math.

Take a look at the course above too.