Thursday, May 31, 2007

Legio X Fretensis

Herodium one of the fortresses of the Jewish revolt conquered by the X Fretensis.Legio X Fretensis (Latin: "Tenth legion of the sea strait") was a Roman legion levied by Augustus in 41/40 BC to fight during the period of civil war that started the dissolution of the Roman Republic. X Fretensis is recorded to exist at least until 410s.

X Fretensis symbols were the bull, the holy animal of the goddess Venus (mythical ancestor of the gens Julia), a ship (probably a reference to the battles of Naulochus and/or Actium), the god Neptune, and a boar. The symbol of Taurus may also mean that it was organized between 20 April and 20 May.

Octavian, later known as Caesar Augustus, levied a legion and gave it the number ten, as a reference to Julius Caesar's famous Tenth Legion.
In 36 BC, the Tenth Legion fought under Octavian against Sextus Pompeius in the Battle of Naulochus, where it earned its cognomen Fretensis. The name refers to the fact that the battle took place near the sea Strait of Messina (Fretum Siculum).
When Tarichacae and Gamala were conquered, the X Fretensis moved to Scythopolis (modern Bet She'an), just west of Jordan River. In the summer of 68, X Fretensis destroyed the monastery of Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are believed to have originated. Its winter camp was at Jericho.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ein Gedi

botanic garden at Ein Gedi, Israel, May 2006. ©Ester InbarEin Gedi (עין גדי; KJV Bible Engedi, NIV Bible En Gedi) is an oasis located west of the Dead Sea, close to Masada and the caves of Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. Location 31°27′N, 35°23′E.

It is known for its caves, springs, and its rich diversity of flora and fauna. Ein Gedi is mentioned several times in biblical writings, for example, in the Song of Songs;

"My beloved is unto me as a cluster of henna flowers in the vineyards of Ein Gedi" (1:14). Accorded to Jewish tradition, David hid from Saul in the caves here;

"And David went up from thence, and dwelt in the strongholds of Ein Gedi" (1
Samuel 24:1).
A kibbutz, founded in 1956, is located about a kilometer from the oasis. It offers various tourist attractions and takes advantage of the local weather patterns and the abundance of natural water to cultivate out-of-season produce. Prior to the founding of the kibbutz, the Ein Gedi area had not been permanently inhabited for 500 years.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Copper Scroll

Copper Scroll found at Khirbet KumranThe Copper Scroll is one of the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Khirbet Qumran, but differs significantly from the others. While they are written on leather or papyrus, this scroll is written on metal: copper mixed with about 1% tin. Unlike the others, it is not a literary work, but contains a listing of locations at which various items of gold and silver are buried or hidden. It is currently on display at the Archaeological Museum in Amman, Jordan. The treasure it describes is worth at least one billion dollars.

History and origin
The scroll was found in 1952 in Cave 3 at Qumran, the last of 15, and is thus referred to as 3Q15. Two copper rolls were discovered off by themselves in the back of the cave. The metal being corroded, they could not be unrolled by conventional means. Professor H. Wright Baker, of the College of Technology at Manchester, England, cut the sheets into strips. It then became clear that the rolls were part of the same document. Low-quality photographs of the scrolls were taken and published. Scholars have found these to be difficult to work with, and have relied on a drawing of the text by scholar Józef Milik published in 1962. Another scholar, John Marco Allegro, published his translation in 1960. The scroll was rephotographed in 1988 with clearer precision, under an effort led by P. Kyle McCarter, Jr.

Writing style
The style of writing is unusual, different from the other scrolls. It is written in a style similar to Mishnaic Hebrew. There is an unusual orthography, and the script has the features resulting from someone writing on copper with a stylus.


Monday, May 28, 2007


Dead Sea Scroll fragmentThe Essenes (es'-eenz) were followers of a religious way of living in Judaism that flourished from the 2nd century BC to the 1st century AD. Many scholars today argue that there were a number of separate but related groups that had in common mystic, eschatological, messianic, and ascetic beliefs that were referred to as the "Essenes". There are also contemporary movements which identify themselves as Essenes, including the "Orthodox" Christian Essenes.

The main source of information about the life and belief of Essenes is the detailed account contained in a work of the 1st century Jewish historiographer Josephus entitled The Jewish War written about 73-75 CE (War 2.119-161) and his shorter description in his Antiquities finished some 20 years later (Ant. 18.11 & 18-22). Claiming first hand knowledge (Life §§10-11), he refers to them by the name Essenoi and lists them as the followers of one of the three "choices" in "Jewish Philosophy'" (War 2.119) alongside the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The only other known contemporary accounts about the Essenes are two similarly detailed ones by the Jewish philosopher Philo (fl. c. 20 BCE - c. 54 CE; Quod Omnis Probus Liber Sit XII.75-87, and the excerpt from his Hypothetica 11.1-18 preserved by Eusebius, Praep. Evang. Bk VIII), who, however, admits to not being quite certain of the Greek form of their name that he recalls as Essaioi (Quod Omn. Prob. XII.75), and the brief reference to them by the Roman equestrian Pliny the Elder (fl. 23 CE - 79 CE; Natural History, Bk 5.73).

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Caves at QumranQumran (Khirbet Qumran) is located on a dry plateau about a mile inland from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea in the disputed territory of the West Bank. The site was constructed sometime between 150 and 130 BC and saw various phases of occupation until, in the summer of 68, Titus and his X Fretensis destroyed it. It is best known as the settlement nearest to the hiding place of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the caves of the sheer desert cliffs. Location near 31°45′N 35°26′E

The Dead Sea scrolls comprise roughly 825-870 documents, including texts from the Hebrew Bible, discovered between 1947 and 1956 in eleven caves in and around the Wadi Qumran (near the ruins of the ancient settlement of Khirbet Qumran, on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea).

Since the discovery in the middle of the last century of almost 900 scrolls in various states of completeness, mostly written on parchment, extensive excavations of the settlement have been undertaken. Jewish ritual baths and cemeteries have been found, a large cistern, a large dining or assembly room, an alleged scriptorium, and a guard tower.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

The AIDS Crisis

Campaign poster against AIDS, Maputo, Mozambique. English: Where are the parents? Because of AIDS I have to grow up without them.Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS or Aids) is a collection of symptoms and infections in humans resulting from the specific damage to the immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The late stage of the condition leaves individuals prone to opportunistic infections and tumors. Although treatments for AIDS and HIV exist to slow the virus's progression, there is no known cure.

HIV is transmitted through direct contact of a mucous membrane or the bloodstream with a bodily fluid containing HIV, such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid, preseminal fluid, and breast milk.

This transmission can come in the form of anal, vaginal or oral sex, blood transfusion, contaminated hypodermic needles, exchange between mother and baby during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding, or other exposure to one of the above bodily fluids. Most researchers believe that HIV originated in sub-Saharan Africa during the twentieth century; it is now a pandemic, with an estimated 38.6 million people now living with the disease worldwide. As of January 2006, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that AIDS has killed more than 25 million people since it was first recognized on June 5, 1981, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. In 2005 alone, AIDS claimed an estimated 2.4–3.3 million lives, of which more than 570,000 were children. A third of these deaths are occurring in sub-Saharan Africa, retarding economic growth and destroying human capital. Antiretroviral treatment reduces both the mortality and the morbidity of HIV infection, but routine access to antiretroviral medication is not available in all countries. HIV/AIDS stigma is more severe than that associated with other life-threatening conditions and extends beyond the disease itself to providers and even volunteers involved with the care of people living with HIV.


Friday, May 25, 2007

Eastern Cape of Africa

provice of South AfricaThe Eastern Cape is a province of South Africa. Its capital is Bisho. It was formed in 1994 out of the "independent" homelands of Transkei and Ciskei, as well as the eastern portion of the Cape Province. It is the traditional home of the Xhosa, and the birthplace of many prominent South Africans, such as Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Desmond Tutu.

The landscape is extremely diverse. The western interior is largely arid Karoo, while the east is well-watered and green. The Eastern Cape offers a wide array of attractions, including 800 km of untouched and pristine coastline along with some particularly splendid beaches, and " big-five" viewing in a malaria-free environment.

The Addo Elephant National Park, situated 73 km from Port Elizabeth, was proclaimed in 1931. Its 743 km² offers sanctuary to 170 elephants, the last Cape buffalo and 21 black rhino of the very scarce Kenyan sub-species.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Republic of South Africa

Map of the Republic of South AfricaSouth Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (Afrikaans: Republiek van Suid-Afrika, Zulu: iRiphabliki yaseNingizimu Afrika, Xhosa: iRiphabliki yaseMzantsi Afrika, Tsonga: Riphabliki yaAfrika Dzonga, Northern Sotho and Southern Sotho: Rephaboliki ya Afrika Borwa, Tswana: Rephaboliki ya Aforika Borwa, Ndebele: IRiphabliki yeSewula Afrika, Swati: IRiphabhulikhi yeNingizimu Afrika, Venda: Riphabuliki ya Afurika Tshipembe), is a country located at the southern tip of the African continent. It borders Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Lesotho, an independent enclave surrounded by South African territory. South Africa is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

South Africa has experienced a different history from other nations in Africa as a result of early immigration from Europe and the strategic importance of the Cape Sea Route. European immigration started shortly after the Dutch East India Company founded a station at (what was to become) Cape Town in 1652.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu born October 7, 1931 Klerksdorp, TransvaalThe Most Reverend Desmond Mpilo Tutu (born October 7, 1931) is a South African cleric and activist who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid. Tutu was the first black South African Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, and primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.

He is generally credited with coining the term Rainbow Nation as a metaphor to describe post-apartheidist South Africa after 1994 under ANC rule. The expression has since entered mainstream consciousness to describe South Africa's ethnic diversity.

Born in Klerksdorp, Transvaal, Tutu moved with his family to Johannesburg at age 12. Although he wanted to become a physician, his family could not afford the training and he followed his father's footsteps into teaching.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Ancient Egypt

The Great Sphinx Giza Plateau, Cairo. Khafre's pyramid in the background.Ancient Egypt was a civilization located along the Lower Nile, reaching from the Nile Delta in the north to as far south as Jebel Barkal at the time of its greatest extension (15th century BC). It lasted for three millennia, from circa 3200 BC to 343 BC, ending when Artaxerxes III conquered Egypt. As a civilization based on irrigation it is the quintessential example of an "hydraulic empire."

Egypt was a transcontinental nation located mostly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula lying in Asia.

Biblcal References containing "Egypt"

The country has shorelines on the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, and the Gulf of Suez; it borders Libya to the west, Sudan to the south, and the Gaza Strip, Palestine and Israel to the east.

Ancient Egypt was divided into two kingdoms, known as Upper and Lower Egypt. The Nile river flows northward from a southerly point to the Mediterranean. The Nile river, around which much of the population of the country clusters, has been the lifeline for Egyptian culture since the Stone Age and Naqada cultures.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

history of South Africa

Satellite image of Cape peninsula, Courtesy of NASAThe written history of South Africa begins with the arrival of the first European explorers to the region. The Portuguese, the first Europeans to see South Africa, chose not to colonise it, and instead the Dutch set up a supply depot on the Cape of Good Hope. This depot rapidly developed into the Cape Colony. The British seized the Cape Colony from the Dutch in the end of the 18th century, and the Cape Colony became a British colony. The ever-expanding number of European settlers prompted fights with the natives over the rights to land and farming, which caused numerous fatalities on both sides. Hostilities also emerged between the Dutch and the British, and many Dutch people trekked into the central Highveld in order to establish their own colonies. The Dutch (by then known as Boers) and the British went to war twice in the Anglo-Boer Wars, which ended in the defeat of the Boers and of their independent republics.



Map of IsraelThe name "Israel" is rooted in the Hebrew bible, the Tanakh, where Jacob is renamed Israel after wrestling with a mysterious adversary ("a man", and later "God" according to Gen. 32:24-30; or "the angel", according to Hosea 12:4). Israel means "he who has wrestled with God." The Jews, the nation fathered by Jacob, were then called "the children of Israel" or the "Israelites."

The earliest known mention of the name 'Israel', probably referring to a group of people rather than to a place, is the Egyptian Merneptah Stele dated to about 1210 BCE. For over 3,000 years, Jews have held the Land of Israel to be their homeland, both as a Holy Land and as a Promised Land. The Land of Israel holds a special place in Jewish religious obligations, encompassing Judaism's most important sites — including the remains of the First and Second Temples (see temple), as well as the rites concerning those temples. Starting around 1200 BCE, a series of Jewish kingdoms and states existed intermittently in the region for over a millennium.

Under Babylonian, Persians, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and (briefly) Sassanian rule, Jewish presence in the province dwindled due to mass expulsions.

In particular, the failure of the Bar Kochba Revolt against The Roman Empire resulted in the large-scale expulsion of Jews.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Promised Land

The Kingdom of David and Solomon. Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms west of the Euphrates River from Tiphsah to Gaza; he was at peace with all his neighbors (I Kings, 4:24)According to the Bible, the Land of Israel (Hebrew: Eretz Yisrael) was promised to the descendants of Hebrew patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by God, making it the Promised land. The concept is frequently used symbolically by Christians, especially in hymnody as a reference to Heaven, or to a new land, such as North America colonized by the Pilgrims. In the Bible, particularly in Genesis, Deuteronomy and Joshua, the Land of Israel was promised as an everlasting possession.

'On that day, God made a covenant with Abram, saying: "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river the Euphrates. The land of the Kenites, Kenizites, Kadmonites; the Chitties, Perizites, Refaim; the Emorites, Canaanites, Gigashites and Yevusites." ' (Genesis 15:18-21)

"To you and your descendants I give this land." (Genesis 26:3)

"The ground upon which you are lying I give to you and your descendants." (Genesis 28:13)

"I made a pact with them to give them the land of Canaan.” (Exodus 6:4)
'Now Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, and all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah as far as the western sea [Mediterranean Sea], and the Negev and the plain in the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. Then the LORD said to him, "This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, 'I will give it to your descendants'; I have let you see {it} with your eyes, but you shall not go over there." '(Deuteronomy 34:1-4)



Cave of the Patriarchs. According to Midrashic sources, it also contains the head of Esau.Hebron (Al-Khalil) (Arabic الخليل, Hebrew חֶבְרוֹן derived from the word "friend") is a town in the Southern Judea region of the West Bank of around 130,000 Palestinians and 500 Israeli settlers. It lies 3,050 feet (930 m) above sea level.

Geographic coordinates : 31°32' N, 35°6' E

Hebron is located 30km south of Jerusalem. Its elevation from sea level is about 1000m. Hebron is famous for its grapes, limestones, pottery workshops and glassblowing factories. It is also home of the nationally famous Al-Juneidi factory for dairy products. The old city of Hebron is characterized by its narrow and winding streets, the flat-roofed stone houses, and the old bazaars. It is the home of Hebron University and Palestine Polytechnic University.

Hebron is one of most ancient cities in the Middle East, and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and was an ancient Canaanite royal city (see Canaan). According to archaeological findings it was probably founded in the 35th century BC. 18th century BC. It is mentioned numerous times in the Bible. In particular, a cave near it, called the Cave of the Patriarchs (Arabic: المسجد الإبراهيمي, or masjid al-Ibrahimi; Hebrew: מערת המכפלה, or me'arat ha-machpela), is where Jews believe Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Leah are buried.

This cave is considered holy by both Jews and Muslims, and is the second holiest site in Judaism. Part of the structure is used by the Muslims as a mosque, as Muslims also revere the site as the burial place of Abraham. According to the Bible, after the settlement of the Israelites in the area, Hebron became one of the principle centers of the Tribe of Judah, and the Judahite David was anointed King of Israel in Hebron and reigned in the city until the capture of Jerusalem, when the capital was moved to that city. It was also one of the six Biblical Cities of Refuge. Herod the Great built the current structure over the Cave of the Patriarchs and Byzantine emperor Justinian I had turned it into a church in the sixth century CE which was later destroyed by the Sassanids.



Jacob Wrestling with the Angel – Gustave Doré, 1855Jacob or Ya'akov, (יַעֲקֹב "Holder of the heel"), later known as Israel (יִשְׂרָאֵל "Prince of God") is the third Biblical patriarch. His father was Isaac and his grandfather was Abraham. His story is told in the Book of Genesis.

Jacob was born 20 years after Isaac and Rebekah were married, at which time his father was 60 (Gen. 25:26), and Abraham, 160 years old. He and his twin brother, Esau, were markedly different in appearance and behavior. Esau was a ruddy hunter, while Jacob was a gentle man who "dwelled in tents," interpreted by most biblical scholars as a mark of his studiousness in the "tents" of Torah.

During Rebekah's pregnancy, "the children struggled together within her" (Genesis 25:22).

According to Rashi, whenever Rebekah passed a house of learning, Jacob would struggle to get out; whenever she passed a house of idolatry, Esau would struggle to get out.

Fearing that she was carrying one rather schizophrenic child, Rebekah questioned God about the tumult and learned that two children were in her womb, who would become two very different nations.



IsaacIsaac or Yitzchak (Hebrew: יִצְחָק "he will laugh") was the only son of Abraham and Sarah, and the father of Jacob and Esau as described in the Hebrew Bible. His story is told in the Book of Genesis. Isaac was the longest-lived of the patriarchs, and the only biblical patriarch whose name was not changed. Isaac was the only patriarch who did not leave Canaan, although he once tried to leave and God told him not to do so. Compared to other patriarchs in the Bible, his story is less colorful, relating few incidents of his life.

The New Testament contains few references to Isaac. The early Christian church viewed Abraham's willingness to follow God's command to sacrifice Isaac as an example of faith and obedience.

Isaac is a prophet in Islam. A few narratives of Isaac appear in the Qur'an. The Qur'an views Isaac as a righteous man, servant of God and the father of Jews. The Qur'an states that Isaac and his progeny are blessed as long as they uphold their covenant with God. Some early Muslims believed that Isaac was the son who was supposed to be sacrificed by Abraham.


Sunday, May 13, 2007


Abraham was commanded by God to offer his son up as a sacrifice in the land of Moriah. Proceeding to obey, he was prevented by an angel as he was about to sacrifice his son, and slew a ram which he found on the spot.Abraham (אַבְרָהָם "Father/Leader of many", (circa 1900 BCE) Standard Hebrew Avraham, Arabic ابراهيم) is regarded as the founding patriarch of the Israelites whom God chose to bless out of all the families of the earth. He is a critical figure in both Judaism and Christianity, and is a very important prophet in Islam. Accounts of his life are given in the Book of Genesis and also in the Qur'an.

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are sometimes referred to as the "Abrahamic religions", because of the role Abraham plays in their holy books and beliefs. In the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, Abraham is described as a patriarch blessed by God (the Jewish people called him "Father Abraham"), and promised great things. Jews and Christians consider him father of the people of Israel through his son Isaac; Muslims regard him as the father of the Arabs through his son Ishmael. In Christian belief, Abraham is a model of faith, and his intention to obey God by offering up Isaac is seen as a foreshadowing of God's offering of his son, Jesus. In Islam, Abraham obeyed God by offering up Ishmael and is considered to be one of the most important prophets sent by God.

His original name was Abram (אַבְרָם "High/Exalted father/leader"); he was the foremost of the Biblical patriarchs. Later in life he went by the name Abraham.


Friday, May 11, 2007

The emerging church

1 + 1 = 1Emergent Christians are predominantly found in Western Europe, North America, and the South Pacific. Some attend local independent churches that specifically identify themselves as being "emergent", while many others contribute to the conversation from within existing mainline denominations.

During recent centuries Western Christianity, like all of Western civilization, has been influenced significantly by modernism. In the 19th century modernist Protestant theologians sought to examine the individual narratives of the Bible and from them extract a set of underlying truths or "meta-narratives". By using methods borrowed from scientific reductionism it was hoped that a grand truth and worldview would be attained. In practice, however, the modernist approach led to additional schism within the Church (cf. Christian liberalism, Christian fundamentalism).

Postmodern church expression, on the other hand, encourages followers to deconstruct each element of their faith experience and reassemble the pieces according to his or her own unique journey of deconstruction.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

social action

In sociology, social actions refer to any action that takes into account actions and reactions of other individuals and is modified based on those events.

Social Action"Doing a '180' is putting others before yourself and also a willingness to be counter cultural."

In England in the 1830s, many poor children had no time for school or play. They worked in coal mines under inhuman conditions. But these children had a friend in high places: Anthony Ashley Cooper, seventh Earl of Shaftesbury and a member of parliament. He was also a devoted Christian who believed God had called him to help the downtrodden. Shaftesbury fought for years to end the abusive child labor practices, although at times he felt “every hand is against me.” But he stood firm, and Parliament abolished child slavery in the mines. ©



In the arts, history, archaeology, the study of antiques, and similar fields involving unique or scarce artifacts from the past, and, with regard to documents in law, authenticity (Greek: αυθεντικός, from 'authentes'='author') is the truthfulness of origins, attributions, commitments, sincerity, and intentions; not a copy or forgery.

People in the postmodern culture seek real and authentic experiences in preference over scripted or superficial experiences. Emerging churches strive to be "relevant" to today's culture and daily life, whether it be through worship or service opportunities. The core Christian message is unchanged but emerging churches attempt, as the church has throughout the centuries, to find ways to reach God's people where they are to hear God's message of unconditional love.

Authenticity is also a technical term in existentialist philosophy. In this philosophy, the conscious self is seen as coming to terms with being in a material world and with encountering external forces, pressures and influences which are very different from, and other than, itself. Authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one's own personality, spirit, or character, despite these pressures. Existentialists see this process in different ways.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Christ in Gethsemane, Carl Heinrich BlochTo be like Christ; showing the spirit of Christ.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” —Mark 1:35-37, NIV

  • we know about Jesus healing the sick and raising the dead;

  • we know about Jesus throwing the money-changers out of the House of God;

  • we know about Jesus' mercy on the woman caught in the act of adultery;

  • we know about Jesus feeding the five thousand from a few pieces of bread and a few fish;

  • we know about Jesus' many miracles

However, in the above passage we see Jesus in the fullness of His character.

We see Him as one who not only carried out the will of God, but one who sought God's Will during times of solitude in prayer. Jesus sacrificed Himself to carry out the will of God. He could have stopped it at any time, but He allowed it to happen because it was God'w Will and because He loves us that much.


Monday, May 07, 2007

Narrative theology

Wisembach, Commune des Vosges, Copyright © Christian AmetNarrative theology was a late 20th century theological development which supported the idea that the Church's use of the Bible should focus on a narrative presentation of the faith, rather than on the development of a systematic theology. The Christian faith is thus also to be interpreted by the Christian community, and not by outside scholars or explorers.

Narrative theology has also been referred to as post-liberalism. It shares much in common with Biblical theology; meaning that theology which attempts to understand the progressive revelation of God towards Man as history developed throughout the Old and New testaments, rather than jumping from one section of scripture to another in a topical manner.


missional living

Children of the Eastern Cape of South AfricaThe Oxford English Dictionary defines "missional" as "Relating to or connected with a religious mission; missionary." In contemporary usage "missional" is an adjectival alternative to "missionary." Although both words are related to "missio" (Latin: sending), some scholars, including Darrell Guder et. al. in The Missional Church believe "missional" focuses on the the Church's indigenous, rather than cross-cultural context, with the church contextualizing its methods, morality, and message to fit this indigenous culture.

In this usage "missional" has rapidly entered the lexicon of the growing emerging church movement whose participants have popularized the term, enabling participants in this movement to recognize each other across denominational lines.


Friday, May 04, 2007

Intelligent design

Time magazine cover,  August 15, 2005 Intelligent design (ID) is the concept that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." Its leading proponents, all of whom are affiliated with the Discovery Institute, say that intelligent design is a scientific theory that stands on equal footing with, or is superior to, current scientific theories regarding the origin of life.

More and more of the scientific community are beginning to view intelligent design as a valid scientific theory.
  • The Evidence in Cosmology
    The Kalam cosmological argument is espousing a more powerful and compelling impetus.
  • The Evidence in Physics
    The "Anthropic principle" lead Patrick Glynn to abandon atheism. He says, "Today the concrete data point strongly in the direction of the God hypothosis. It is the simplist and most obvious solution to the anthropic puzzle."
  • The evidence in Astronomy
    "If the universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have come into existance. It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in." -John A. O'Keefe of NASA
  • The evidence in Biochemistry
    Michael Behe has demostrated that Darwin's theory has broken down, through his description of "irreducibly complex" machines.
  • The evidence in Biological Information
    Stephen C. Meyer (Cambridge) has demonstrated that no hypothosis explains how information got into biological matter through naturalistic means.
  • The evidence in Consciousness
    "You can't get something from nothing. If the universe began with dead matter having no consciousness, how, then, do you get something totally different--consciousness, living, thinking, feeling, believing, creatures--from materials that don't have that?" -J. P. Moreland


Thursday, May 03, 2007

cosmological argument

Modern thinkers sometimes cite evidence for the Big Bang to support the claim that the universe began to exist a finite time ago.The cosmological argument is a metaphysical argument for the existence of God, or a first mover of the cosmos. It is traditionally known as an "argument from universal causation," an "argument from first cause," and also as an "uncaused cause" argument. Whichever term is used, there are three basic variants of this argument, each with subtle but important distinctions: the argument from causation in esse, the argument from causation in fieri, and the argument from contingency. The cosmological argument does not attempt to prove anything about the first cause or about God, except to argue that such a cause must exist. This cause is known in Latin as "causa sui."

Origins of the argument
Plato and Aristotle both posited first cause arguments, though each had certain notable caveats. Plato (c. 427–c. 347 BCE) posited a basic cosmological argument in The Laws (Book X). He argued that motion in the world and in the cosmos was "imparted motion" that would have required some kind of "self-originated motion" to set it in motion and to maintain the motion. Plato also posited a "Demiurge" of supreme wisdom and intelligence as the creator of the cosmos in his work Timaeus.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

anthropic principle

The NGC 2440 Nebula, courtesy ©NASA
In physics and cosmology, the anthropic principle is an umbrella term for various dissimilar attempts to explain the structure of the universe by way of coincidentally balanced features that are necessary and relevant to the existence on Earth of biochemistry, carbon-based life, and eventually human beings to observe such a universe. The common (and "weak") form of the anthropic principle is a truism or tautology that begins with the observation that the universe appears surprisingly hospitable to the emergence of life, particularly complex multicellular life, that can make such an observation and concludes with that premise that in only such a fine-tuned universe can such living observers be.

Given the extreme simplicity of the universe at the start of the Big Bang, the friendliness of the universe to complex structures such as galaxies, planetary systems, and biology is unexpected by any normal model of turbulence driven structuring that science has been able to derive.

The idea evolved from the so-called "Dicke's coincidence", and has subsequently been reinforced by the discovery of many more anthropic coincidences since Robert Dicke first noted that the evolution of the universe is not random, but is coincidentally constrained by biological factors that require that the age of the universe had to be roughly this "golden-age". Much younger, and there would not have been time for sufficient interstellar levels of carbon to build up by nucleosynthesis, but much older, and the golden age of main sequence stars and stable planetary systems would have already come to an end.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

watchmaker analogy

Hooke’s drawing of a flea. The watchmaker analogy, or watchmaker argument, is a teleological argument for the existence of God. By way of an analogy the argument states that design implies a designer. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the analogy was used (by Descartes and Boyle, for instance) as a device for explaining the structure of the universe and God's relationship to it. Later, the analogy played a prominent role in natural theology and the "argument from design," where it was used to support arguments for the existence of God and for the intelligent design of the universe.

The most famous statement of the teleological argument using the watchmaker analogy was given by William Paley in 1802. Paley's argument was seriously challenged by Charles Darwin's formulation of the theory of natural selection, and how it combines with mutation to improve survivability of a species, even a new species. In the United States, starting in the 1980s, the concepts of evolution and natural selection (usually referred to as "Darwinism") became the subject of a concerted attack by Christian creationists (see creationism). This attack included a renewed interest in, and defense of, the watchmaker argument by the intelligent design movement.

The Watchmaker argument
The watchmaker analogy consists of the comparison of some natural phenomenon to a watch. Typically, the analogy is presented as a prelude to the teleological argument and is generally presented as:

  1. If you look at a watch, you can easily tell that it was designed and built by an intelligent watchmaker.

  2. Similarly, if you look at some natural phenomenon X (a particular organ or organism, the structure of the solar system, life, the entire universe) you can easily tell that it was designed and built by an intelligent creator/designer.





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