mm442: Blast from the Past! No. 35

July 17, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

It’s baaaaaack! Mid-summer lethargy. Another in a string of Midwestern 90/90 days.

So begging your indulgence yet again, we bring back another gem from the dim, cool and crisp past, last October.

l-hc760-190

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last fall, and always in season, originally posted October 8, 2007, and originally titled “mm164: A Nation of Christians is Not a Christian Nation,”

MUDGE’S Musings

The creation of the United States of America was the result of two parallel streams: the twin manifest desires for freedom of economic opportunity and freedom of religion.

The Bush theocracy would like us to forget the latter. So thanks are due to Jon Meacham in today’s NYTimes, for a useful reminder.

nytimes

By JON MEACHAM

JOHN McCAIN was not on the campus of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University last year for very long — the senator, who once referred to Mr. Falwell and Pat Robertson as “agents of intolerance,” was there to receive an honorary degree — but he seems to have picked up some theology along with his academic hood. In an interview with Beliefnet.com last weekend, Mr. McCain repeated what is an article of faith among many American evangelicals: “the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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mm164: A Nation of Christians Is Not a Christian Nation

October 8, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

The creation of the United States of America was the result of two parallel streams: the twin manifest desires for freedom of economic opportunity and freedom of religion.

The Bush theocracy would like us to forget the latter. So thanks are due to Jon Meacham in today’s NYTimes, for a useful reminder.

nytimes

By JON MEACHAM

JOHN McCAIN was not on the campus of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University last year for very long — the senator, who once referred to Mr. Falwell and Pat Robertson as “agents of intolerance,” was there to receive an honorary degree — but he seems to have picked up some theology along with his academic hood. In an interview with Beliefnet.com last weekend, Mr. McCain repeated what is an article of faith among many American evangelicals: “the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation.”

According to Scripture, however, believers are to be wary of all mortal powers. Their home is the kingdom of God, which transcends all earthly things, not any particular nation-state. The Psalmist advises believers to “put not your trust in princes.” The author of Job says that the Lord “shows no partiality to princes nor regards the rich above the poor, for they are all the work of his hands.” Before Pilate, Jesus says, “My kingdom is not of this world.” And if, as Paul writes in Galatians, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” then it is difficult to see how there could be a distinction in God’s eyes between, say, an American and an Australian. In fact, there is no distinction if you believe Peter’s words in the Acts of the Apostles: “I most certainly believe now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears him and does what is right is welcome to him.”

The kingdom Jesus preached was radical. Not only are nations irrelevant, but families are, too: he instructs those who would be his disciples to give up all they have and all those they know to follow him.

The only acknowledgment of God in the original Constitution is a utilitarian one: the document is dated “in the year of our Lord 1787.” Even the religion clause of the First Amendment is framed dryly and without reference to any particular faith. The Connecticut ratifying convention debated rewriting the preamble to take note of God’s authority, but the effort failed.

The founders of this nation were not irreligious men, although a religion that allowed many of those residing in the southern states to reconcile faith with the holding of slaves has to be judged harshly (perhaps a topic for another day).

But they understood, apparently better than many of their modern-day successors, that the freedom to practice one’s religion is a cornerstone of this nation.

After all, flight from religious persecution was and has been a consistent motivation for waves of immigration, both before, and for nearly every year since the signing of the Constitution.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

A Nation of Christians Is Not a Christian Nation – New York Times

Messers Falwell, Robertson and McCain: Leave the rest of us alone to practice, or not, the religion of our choice, free from coercion and the pernicious attempts to undermine education in this country with “creation science” and the like.

The founders were not anti-religion. Many of them were faithful in their personal lives, and in their public language they evoked God. They grounded the founding principle of the nation — that all men are created equal — in the divine. But they wanted faith to be one thread in the country’s tapestry, not the whole tapestry.

If you want a Christian nation, I’ve got one for you: France! Should you want a pure theocracy, try Iran! Go hence and prosper, if you can.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm152: Study Finds Evidence of Genetic Response to Diet

September 25, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

This is a story from several weeks ago, “banked” in Windows Live Writer’s Drafts section waiting for an appropriate day.

This is that day, starting hours later than usual because MUDGE‘s pesky personal life keeps intruding into blogging time. The nerve!

As mentioned before, this writer is what a politically correct person might call “pleasingly plump,” or perhaps “horizontally challenged.” As you might have figured out by now, faithful reader, MUDGE does not have a politically correct bone in his body (as if he or anyone else could see any bones inside all the blubber), so he just calls himself fat.

It’s a lifelong problem, and has predictably led to the usual middle aged complications.

Having tried countless diets; having lost countless pounds, we fight this battle every frigging day.

Maybe there’s a magic bullet after all…

nytimes

by NICHOLAS WADE

Published: September 10, 2007

Could people one day evolve to eat rich food while remaining perfectly slim and svelte?

This may not be so wild a fantasy. It is becoming clear that the human genome does respond to changes in diet, even though it takes many generations to do so.

Researchers studying the enzyme that converts starch to simple sugars like glucose have found that people living in countries with a high-starch diet produce considerably more of the enzyme than people who eat a low-starch diet.

The reason is an evolutionary one. People in high-starch countries have many extra copies of the amylase gene which makes the starch-converting enzyme, a group led by George H. Perry of Arizona State University and Nathaniel J. Dominy of the University of California, Santa Cruz, reported yesterday in the journal Nature Genetics.

The production of the extra copies seems to have been favored by natural selection, according to a genetic test, the authors say. If so, the selective pressure could have occurred when people first started to grow cereals like wheat and barley at the beginning of the Neolithic revolution some 10,000 years ago, or even much earlier.

… if not for MUDGE himself, perhaps for his great grandchildren, anyway.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Study Finds Evidence of Genetic Response to Diet – New York Times

Sorry to burden some of you with the concept of evolution, also considered in this space previously.

That’s not just a theory, guys, that’s the law!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm112: Daily Kos: Evolution is, in fact, a theory, not a fact.

August 22, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Due to the nature of my employment, and the extraordinary nature of my specific role that requires me to venture out of the safe confines of the introverted world of gearhead IT types, and into the dangerous confines of wild-eyed intellectual activity, I meet more than a few scientists. Not daily, or even every week, but several times a month.

It’s quite bracing, actually. I keep myself (comparatively) young by encountering smart people on a regular basis. Quite tonic really.

They wouldn’t have any trouble with this material; do you?

dailykos

Evolution is, in fact, a theory, not a fact.

by Dan Quixote
Sat Aug 18, 2007 at 10:47:11 AM PDT

I’ve decided to start my diarying with a couple of entries about evolution. I’m working on my PhD in evolutionary biology, and while I can tell most people here understand that there is no logical way to reject evolution, I thought it might be helpful to clarify a few important points about evolution. Those who reject evolution often use the inconsistencies in the understanding of those they argue with to “prove” that evolution does not make sense. So I’d like to see us all on the same page.

For those of you who reject evolution as a matter of faith, it is not my goal to convince you of anything. If you were open to being swayed by facts, reasons or logic, it would, by definition not be faith. If you like, imagine this was written in a fantasy realm in which evolution is real and your genetic code is 95% identical to that of a chimp. I don’t want the comments section to turn into an argument about whether evolution is real or people on the other side are questionable. No one is going to change his mind on the topic.

I found this story at the top of the heap at Daily Kos Saturday; not a lengthy read, but as cogent a discussion of a complex, button-pushing topic as I’ve encountered in some time.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Daily Kos: Evolution is, in fact, a theory, not a fact.

As the wonderfully appellated Dan Quixote states, he’s hardly likely to change any hearts and minds wedded to so-called “creation science” (ha!).

But he provides some ammunition to those among us who encounter the sincere but scientifically ignorant; hasn’t happened to me lately, but that’s because I don’t usually lead with my liberal chin in the HCA (Heart of Corporate America, not the real name of my real employer).

And, I gained a new perspective reading this article:

The popular view of evolution is a progression from bacteria to squiggly guys to fish to lungfish to amphibians to reptiles to mammals to primates to great apes to Neanderthals to cavemen to us us US, the pinnacle of God’s design! But wait, we are talking about science here, no supernatural explanations need apply. If we overcome our religious biases and our anthropocentrism, it becomes clear that the world’s organisms are not striving to be us. Some populations evolve to be bigger, others to be smaller. Brains get bigger and smaller. Number of limbs increases and decreases. There is no direction to it. Every population just drifts towards whatever happens to encourage survival and reproduction in their peculiar environment at that moment. There is no force driving things towards being human like.

Ow! Now I’m all bruised from being knocked off my pinnacle. But, I’ll heal.

No more than was D.Q., I’m not here to pick a fight (and, as you’ve probably sorted out by now, I don’t have the horsepower to mount much of a defense). But, fearless reader, let me know what you think of this. Kansans need not apply.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE