Circumcision makes sexual promiscuity healthier

The American Association of Pediatrics has released a report that favors male circumcision on the grounds that it reduces the spread of sexually-transmitted disease among promiscuous heterosexuals.

Perhaps the most powerful evidence in favour of circumcision comes from randomized controlled trials in South Africa, Kenya and Uganda. These found that, for men who have sex with women, circumcision reduced the risk of infection with HIV. (No protection was observed for men who have sex with men.) The South African and Ugandan trials also found that circumcision reduced infection rates for human papillomavirus (HPV) and herpes.

So if you have a sexually-active infant, you should talk to your pediatrician about getting him circumcised.

The everlasting same-sex union of Christ and the church

Just to follow up on my previous post, let’s look at another passage I touched on briefly yesterday.

On that day some Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Jesus and questioned Him, asking, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘ If a man dies having no children, his brother as next of kin shall marry his wife, and raise up children for his brother.’Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother; so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh. Last of all, the woman died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.”

But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

So the Sadducees are trying to trap Jesus with a question about heterosexual unions after the resurrection, and Jesus’ answer is that heterosexual unions do not exist after the resurrection, because the nature of the resurrected people will have changed to make them like the angels. And Biblical angels, interestingly enough, are all male.

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The gay Trinity

There’s an interesting passage in Eph. 5:28-32:

So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.

Many a Christian sermon on marriage will tell you that there’s a great mystery (i.e. a great truth that can only be understood through divine revelation) behind the physical union of a man and a woman in sexual intercourse, and that mystery is that the sexual union is really only a shadow of a deeper truth about the spiritual union of God and man. The true essence of the sexual relationship is thus not its carnal aspect, but its spiritual nature.

That becomes interesting when you remember that the Trinity is an even deeper union, not just of two persons, but of three—all male.

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Green car really sucks

An Indian car manufacturer hopes to sell a new air-powered car that runs cheap and has zero emissions.

The Airpod’s technology was originally created in France at Motor Development International but has since been bought buy Tata in hopes to bring it to the Indian consumer car market. With virtually zero emissions and at the cost of about a penny per kilometer, it is definitely one of the most environmentally and economically friendly vehicles in the world.

And how do you refuel it?

The tank holds about 175 liters of compressed air that can be filled at special stations or by activating the on-board electric motor to suck air in from the outside.

Yeah, the refueling method sucks (*groan*), but at a market price of only $10,000, it could sure put a crimp in the sale of all those pricey hybrids. You still need a source of electricity from somewhere, so it’s not, perhaps, totally green, but still, it’s a cool idea.

Prophecy limbo

Over at Evangelical Realism we’re looking at Justin Martyr’s First Apology, and this week we’re seeing how far he can bend over backwards to try and turn a passage, a phrase, or even a single word to turn into a prophecy that Jesus “fulfilled” somehow. Some of the passages, like Psalm 22, are still used by believers today, but others… well, let’s just say that modern believers, on the whole, aren’t quite so mentally flexible as Justin. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing.

What you are, not what you aren’t

I have to say, I’m tremendously encouraged by the emergence of a new “Atheism+” movement as the logical outgrowth of the New Atheist movement. The problem with atheism (if you’ll pardon me phrasing it in those terms) is that it’s a definition based on what you’re not, or in other words on the things you don’t do. That’s a negative beacon. Sure, it draws in people who have thought things over, and rejected superstition based on reason and evidence, but it also draws in people who disbelieve in God as part of a larger pattern of antisocial attitudes, as well as people who reject religion as a way of drawing attention to themselves.

Atheism+ is a much needed refinement of the original raw idea. It’s not enough just to disbelieve in God for whatever good or bad reasons you might have. To be part of this new movement, we need to be atheists PLUS we need to be decent people committed to making life better for ourselves and those around us. And that means breaking down all the pernicious vices by which we oppress and destroy one another: superstition, patriarchy, bigotry, sexism, racism—whatever penalizes the innocent in order to profit the privileged.

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Stray thoughts: congressional review of state secrets

If you’ve been reading Ed Brayton’s blog, you know that one of the big problems with the current administration, like administration before it, is a penchant for using the so-called State Secret Privilege to avoid accountability for any questionable activities it might be engaging in. In fact, if anything, the current administration is even worse than the last one, and worse yet, they’re proving successful at getting the courts to rubber-stamp this kind of blanket immunity. And that’s eroding the distinction between the democratic republic we’re supposed to have, and the effective dictatorship we’re heading for.

So here’s my stray thought of the day: if the judicial branch won’t provide any checks and balances to the executive, why not Congress? The genius of the American constitution is the trade-off between the democratic power of the legislature and the executive power of the president, with the additional safeguard of an independent judiciary (on paper, at least). So why can’t we have a congressional investigation into the administration’s reckless invocation of the State Secret Privilege? Obama can’t argue that only the state has the right to be “in” on the secret, because Congress is just as much the state as he is. And if the president still won’t allow Congress to exercise its constitutional responsibility to provide checks and balances to the abuse of executive power, then maybe it’s time for them to exercise their constitutional power of impeachment.

I’m no political scientist, so I don’t know whether that’s either desirable or doable, but I thought I’d put it out there. From what I remember from social studies class, it seems like the right thing to do.

How do we know?

Picking up where we left off yesterday, we’ve seen that Pastor Stephen Feinstein would be ill-advised to propose that there are any material preconditions for the universe, “reasonable standards,” and epistemology. That which exists in the same form at all points in time is necessarily uncaused and uncausable, since there’s no point in time where it was not already what it is now, and therefore no opportunity for it to be changed from “non-existent” to “existing.” The laws of physics, the laws of logic and reason, the fundamental material aspects of the space-time continuum, and so on, are all uncreatable and have no material preconditions.

That leaves logical preconditions, i.e. the relationship between A and B that allows us to say B cannot be true if A is false, and thus if B is true then we know A must be true also. Given that there is no possibility that the universe, “reasonable standards” and epistemology could have supernatural causes, can we nevertheless reason our way from B (the universe, reasonable standards, and epistemology) back to some A that must also be true? Can we, in other words, find Pastor Stephen’s logical preconditions for the existence of the universe, reason, and epistemology?

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Causes, creations and preconditions

I’ve been following Russell Glasser’s online discussion with Pastor Stephen Feinstein, in which the latter claims that he can prove that “atheism is untenable, irrational, and ultimately impossible.” By mutual agreement, it’s a public discussion between just those two parties, but I can’t resist the temptation to supply a little offside commentary, because it looks like Pastor Stephen has made a misstep already, in only his second post.

It is not good enough for me to say, “Russell, I agree with you that this world is real, that we learn from the senses, that reasonable standards are necessary, and that bald assertion fails to prove anything.” By the way, I agree with you on all of these things, but with one revision. However, I want us to account for these things. What are the necessary preconditions of this universe, as we know it? Why are we able to rely on our senses? What are the necessary preconditions for our senses to be reliable? Why must there be reasonable standards? What are the necessary preconditions for any standards at all that avoids the hopelessness of relativity? Epistemology will help us construct workable lists of what things are necessary in order to make these assumptions of ours a reality. Furthermore, we cannot even take epistemology for granted, but must ask what are the necessary preconditions of it too? And at the end of the day, atheism cannot provide for these necessary preconditions.

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