Thursday, May 29, 2008

Voddie Baucham on the Family Integrated Church

Boundless has an interview with Voddie Baucham, pastor of Grace Family Baptist Church, on the family-integrated church. He identifies a number of problems with the way things have been done and offers the family-integrated approach as an acceptable alternative. Please read and share your thoughts on:

The Family Integrated Church

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Homer: Comparing Translations

Last week, I announced that I had been hired by Providence Christian Academy in St. Louis. It is a part-time position teaching Humanities to 9th and 10th grade students. This upcoming school year, I will be taking them through the Ancient period, as I noted on Sunday in the used bookstore post.

One of my tasks of late has been to secure all the books I'll need, and in the same translation (and pagination) as the editions assigned on the reading list for the class. I have found some of the books in my local used bookstores, and thus also found the need to check and see if older editions were the same as newer ones. I found out on Tuesday that the older edition of the Plato anthology I bought has the same pagination as the newer edition, thanks to a quick trip to Borders.

One of the books I purchased new during that trip to Borders was the proper edition of Homer's Odyssey, the very book that taught me the importance of a good translation for those of us who cannot read Classical Greek. The summer before my freshman year of college, I was sent a high school reading list from my college's English department with a list of some books and authors that they hoped we would all be familiar with, and The Odyssey was one such book. Since I hadn't read it in high school, I picked up a copy from my local library and tried to read it on the drive to Spring Freshman Orientation (which, incidentally, was five years ago this month). I had only made it no more than five pages in when I (gently) tossed the book aside in frustration. It was hard to read and did not make a lot of sense to me. When I learned that it was on the reading list for my freshman Great Books class, I was more than a little worried about how I would survive.

To the rescue came my professor, Dr. Somerville, who, out of his wisdom, had picked an amazingly readable translation of The Odyssey. The confusing and hard-to-understand tome that I had feared simply failed to show up. I am sure there were other factors going on as well, such as having a professor lecturing, explaining and answering questions as we went along. Here is a comparison of the translation we used in the Great Books class, and the other, "standard" translation:

Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns
Driven time and again off course, once he had plundered

The hallowed heights of Troy.

Many cities of men he saw and learned their minds,

Many pains he suffered, heartsick on the open sea,

Fighting to save his life and bring his comrades home.

But he could not save them from disaster, hard as he strove-

The recklessness of their own ways destroyed them all,

The blind fools, they devoured the cattle of the Sun

And the Sungod wiped from sight the day of their return.

Launch out on his story, Muse, daughter of Zeus,

Start from where you will- sing for our time too.

And the other:

Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story
Of that man skilled in all ways of contending,

The wanderer, harried for years on end,

After he plundered the stronghold
On the proud height of Troy.
He saw the townlands
And learned the minds of many distant men,

And weathered many bitter nights and days

In his deep heart at sea, while he fought only
To save his life, to bring his shipmates home.

But not by will nor valor could he save them,

For their own recklessness destroyed them all-
Children and fools, they killed and feasted on

The cattle of Lord Helios, the Sun,

And he who moves all day through heaven

Took from their eyes the dawn of their return.

Of these adventures, Muse, daughter of Zeus,
Tell us in our time, life the great song again.

The first is from the Robert Fagles translation, and the latter is from the older translation by Robert Fitzgerald. While it ultimately comes down to a matter of preference (unless you want as literal a translation as possible, which isn't as big a factor in this instance), I find the Fagles translation much more readable and "poetic." I've read this section from a number of other translators (such as Lattimore) and none of them seemed to draw me quite like Fagles does. That said, based on the excerpts given (which come from the first twelve lines of the epic), which translation would you rather have to read?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Christian Books: Sex, Language and Violence?

Over at The Master's Artist, Mary DeMuth started an interesting conversation by pointing out how the Christian publishing industry seems to have little, if any, problem with violence in the books they put out, but still shy away from other "vices." The comment thread is has been very interesting to follow. Check it out: Goldilocks Violence.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Out of the Deep I Call to Thee

Out of the deep I call to Thee, O Lord, to Thee.
Before Thy throne of grace I fall; be merciful to me.

Out of the deep I cry, the woeful deep of sin,
Of evil done in days gone by, of evil now within.

Out of the deep of fear and dread of coming shame;
All night till morning watch is near I plead the precious Name.

Lord, there is mercy now, as ever was, with Thee.
Before Thy throne of grace I bow; be merciful to me.

Friday, May 09, 2008

The Worldview Song

I love Matt Morginsky. He is the former lead singer and song-writer for The Orange County Supertones, who were probably one of the best things that came out of the CCM industry. Since the Supertones dissolved, Matt has been traveling and speaking on apologetics, a frequent theme in his songs. Check out "The Worldview Song."

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Allowing Intelligence

After hearing all the buzz and hype, I decided to see Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed this afternoon. I was thinking about seeing it, but this morning I edited the latest episode of Radio Worldview, in which hosts Bill and Jeff offer commentary on it, and I decided to take the time this afternoon to view it for myself.

On the whole, I have been fairly silent on the issue of Intelligent Design on my blog. In college, I took a class on the philosophy of science, a course I'm convinced should be mandatory for every science student, in which we used ID and the (back then) recent Dover, PA Kitzmiller court case as a springboard. My senior year, I took a seminar on Intelligent Design that was taught by not only philosophy professors, but also an evolutionary biologist and a historian of science. There were about as many professors in the classroom on a weekly basis as there were students. The class started with the historian of science outlining the histories of both the creationism movement and the intelligent design movement, showing that they came out of very different kinds of soil. Then, then evolutionary biologist lectured for a few weeks on what darwinian evolution is. Finally, one of the philosophy professors took us through William Dembski's ID argument. The argument was very technical and even I, the philosophy major, found myself asking for simplifications. To round my educational pedigree out, I took an introductory biology class, taught by Darwinists.

One of the assignments for the Intelligent Design seminar was to write a paper, a portion of which I reworked into a blog post a few weeks ago that attracted more than a little controversy. In sum, the point I made was that the anti-ID crowd is either acting out of ignorance or with suspicious motives when they dismiss ID as "creationism." I took a look at the taxonomy and concluded that while ID and Creationism are related, as far as ideas go, it is more fitting to call Creationism "Intelligent Design," than vice versa. My argument is a little more nuanced than that, but rather than rehash it here, I'll simply direct you to read it here.

Ok. Now to the subject at hand: Expelled

I enjoyed Expelled and I thought it was a well-made and well-thought out documentary. Stein did good at backing up his claims of intellectual discrimination and at talking to scientists on both sides of the issue. If you read my past post on ID, you will understand why I particularly appreciated Dembski pointing out that ID is a "low-commitment" theory, unlike Creationism, which requires a much more rigorous series of beliefs. Even Richard Dawkins, toward the end of the film, admitted that ID was possible, provided the designers were extra terrestrials, a theory also proposed by the late Francis Crick.

In the last third of the movie, one of the interviewees made the point that we would all like to think that science is what is driving the worldview of the scientist, but said that he fears that the worldview is driving the science. This is an issue that cannot be brought up too often. Our assumptions about the nature of reality dictate how we will interpret reality.

Another important point Stein brought up is the necessity of Darwinian ideas for something like Nazism and Eugenics. As Stein stated multiple times, Darwinism does not always lead to it, but opens the door to the possibility. I think this is a good point to make, especially when you have Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris running around, talking about how religion only brings war and terror. Science, as well as religion, has been used for evil ends.

At one point, Ben Stein asks Richard Sternberg, who lost his job on account of allowing a paper that mentioned ID in its conclusion to be published in a journal, what he would say to those who think he was rightly expelled. His answer, in essence, was "who are you and what right do you have to decide what is and is not science?" That is possibly one of the biggest and more important questions raised in the film, and it is a shame that Stein did not probe it further. The demarcation problem of science (the question of what is and is not science and how scientific knowledge is different from other kinds of knowledge) is something philosophers of science have been aware of for a long time, yet few in the scientific community seem interested it wrestling with the issue.

On the whole, I think Expelled served its purpose well and will hopefully result in more discussion of the issues. If you are hoping of a systematic exposition on the finer points of irreducible complexity and Bayesian probability, then you are going to be disappointed. If you have not seen it, I encourage you to see it for yourself before you judge it. Even if you are not positively inclined toward ID, it might do you well to see how many people view those who quickly brush off ID as "creationism" and refuse to discuss it.