Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Bayes Haze Revisited

So I've read some internet articles and picked up a book to help me with probability. It turns out that Bayes Theorem isn't that hard after all (hooray!!). First I just needed to get over the whole "distaste for math" thing I had. It's not that I'm bad at math, it's just not my best subject so I tend to turn up my nose at the sight of numbers. The other problem is just learning what all the letters and symbols stand for. Voila! Probabilty "ain't that big a deal." I'm not ready to rumble with the experts by any stretch, but it seems the journey will be a lot easier than I thought it was going to be.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

A Husband's Responsibility

Most people are probably tired of hearing about how our culture misconstrues love, but I think it's the case. Here you have the whole "falling in/falling out" model propagated by Hollywood and in the rain-forest devouring phenomenon known as the romance novel. We are told that an inability to choose who we love is a brute fact for all humanity. "The heart wants what it wants," as Woody Allen said.

Our absorption of this idea has made it a strange and seemingly futile thing to "work on" a relationship. Generally whenever I hear a couple say they need to work on their relationship I hear an accompanying death knell. Even many couples who stay together do so because they have that rare ability to sustain the feelings that most people use up in the early stages.

If it is the case that "the heart wants what it wants" and "working on a relationship" is futile, then what do we say to people like Michael Schiavo? This is a man who has abandoned his wife (Terri; see below for more on her) when she needs him the most. But he is no longer in love with Terri, is he? No, he is not, otherwise he would not have fathered children with another woman, with whom he still lives. If this is the nature of love, Michael should get a free pass.

The fact of the matter is, however, Michael should not get a free pass. Most people who are honest with themselves find Michael's course of action repugnant. This calls into question the nature of love. I think the very marriage vows many of us take are a better picture of the nature of love. We are to care for each other. We are not free to do whatever we wish when the other is in a coma or severely brain damaged. We have pledged ourselves to this other person and have no right to sever that bond (unless it is mutually agreed upon). The heart is fickle. Honor is not. Husbands, love your wives. Don't just tell them of the warm feelings you have. Honor them by taking care of them in their hour of need. Do not betray your vows.

Friday, February 18, 2005

What Can a Vegetable Do?

Did you know that vegetables can smile? Did you know that they can recognize their mothers' voice? How about this: Did you know they can follow a balloon across the room with their eyes? And laugh or cry? According to the state of Florida a vegetable can do any one of these things because they maintain that Terry Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state. Here are Terri's father's words:

By now you have probably heard about a young woman who is threatened with starvation in Florida.

That young woman is my daughter, Terri. In 1990, through circumstances which are shrouded in mystery (and may involve a criminal act by Terri's estranged husband), my daughter was left severely brain-damaged.

But before I go any further, I must put an end to the lies and misinformation that are circulating around the country through the media concerning my daughter's condition.

Contrary to anything you may have heard, Terri is NOT brain dead; Terri is NOT in a coma; she is NOT in a "persistent vegetative state;" nor is she on ANY life-support system.

Terri laughs, Terri cries, she moves, and she makes child-like attempts at speech with her mother and me. Sometimes she will say "Mom" or "Dad" or "yeah" when we ask her a question. When I kiss her hello or goodbye, she looks at me and "puckers up" her lips.

This may not seem like much to you, but it means everything to Terri's mother and me. It tells us she is still here, she still knows us, and with therapy and time she can have some level of recovery.

I know that there are some hard hearted people who believe that due to my daughters condition, she is better off dead. Words cannot describe the pain and anger such sentiments cause us. This is our daughter, our little girl, and even in her disabled condition, she still has the right to life and the right to be loved and cared for by her family.

Why, you may ask, is Terry in danger of death by starvation?

It is a long and outrageous story, but I'll give it to you as briefly as I can.

After the "incident" that left Terry in this condition, her husband Michael Schiavo sued various members of the medical community for money, saying that they did not treat or diagnose her properly at an early stage, and that he needed this money to provide for Terri's therapy and rehabilitation and care.

After lengthy court battles, he finally won upwards of $1.7 million under the guise of caring for our daughter, and then to our horror, he immediately began spending the money on himself and his Playboy lifestyle.

Terri's estranged husband Michael Schiavo has been living with another woman for years, and has two children by her. He is determined to see Terri dead. Why? We believe it's because he gets to keep whatever money is left... and he may have even darker motives than that.

To add insult to all of this injury toward my daughter, Michael Schiavo is still her "legal husband" and therefore is her "guardian." And since they are not legally divorced, he controls whatever health care she will and will not get. We are not even allowed to know if she is getting aspirin.

In 1993 my family initiated litigation against Michael Schiavo solely for the purpose of acquiring medical, physical and neurological assistance for our daughter Terri. The litigation escalated in 1998 when Michael Schiavo petitioned the court to stop Terri from receiving food and water, thereby starving her to death.

In filing this legal action, he retained the services of a high profile euthanasia attorney and the financial backing of powerful euthanasia organizations. He also used Terri's medical rehabilitation money to underwrite much of the legal expenses associated with his effort to starve our daughter to death.

We know that he has spent nearly $500,000 of Terri's money in attorney's fees for just one attorney trying to obtain a court order to have Terri starved to death. The very money that was supposed to be used for Terri's rehabilitation is being used to have her killed.

We very quickly discovered it was impossible for us to compete with the abundance of financial and legal resources the pro-death organizations were providing Micheal Schiavo in their effort to kill Terri. They are pouring time and effort into her starvation because they want to use this case to further the agenda of legalized euthanasia.

Hat tip to Daily Inklings

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Fight to Save Terri

You may notice that I've put the "Blogs for Terri" blogroll in my sidebar. For those who don't know, Terri Schiavo is a woman who suffered some severe brain damage but is not in a persistent vegetative state. Her husband Michael won a malpractice suit and the money was supposed to be used to get Terri the best care possible. He did no do this and now that this financial well is going dry he has been fighting to get her feeding tube removed so she will starve to death. Nevermind the fact that doctors have said that with physical therapy she wouldn't even need to use the feeding tube anymore.

The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that Michael's efforts to kill his wife should be allowed. The hope is that Blogs for Terri can somehow contribute to the fight for her survival. Human life is precious. Count me in.

Get further information on Blogs for Terri here.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Superman's Muscles

A lot of people think of Superman as the ultimate superhero. He does, after all, seem to have it everything. You know, invulnerability, flight, heat vision, super super strength, the works. Accordingly, the guys who have played him in the movies have been these big, muscle-bound types. When you think about it, though, if Superman was real he'd probably be really skinny. I mean, here you have this guy who can lift a freight train one-handed, so it would probably be pretty hard to find a set of weights that could offer enough resistance to build up his muscles. Of course, then he'd look a lot less impressive in his tights.

So instead of someone like Brandon Routh or that Smallville kid in the next Superman movie, picture this: The camera moves rapidly across an empty field and up into the air, then beyond the atmosphere and into space where a figure in blue tights and a red cape flies into view. It's SUPERMAN! Starring: Adrien Brody as the Man of Steel!

Yeah. That's how it should be.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

I "Won" an Award!!!!

Bible Archive has given me the much coveted (I'm sure) "Salon du Refuse Arbitrary Choice Award!"

*Sniff* I'd like to thank all the people who made this award possible. Me mostly, but also Rey for randomly selecting me. And Johnny Dee for inspiring me to start my blog. All my hard work is starting to pay off...

See the rest of the winners here.

The Bayes Haze

My goal, after spending entirely too long as an undergrad, is to go to a Masters program in philosophy. Since I have two years left before I can go I decided to educate myself in philosophy (it is not my undergrad major). One thing that is difficult for me to get a handle on is Bayes Theorem. I just have to make my mind start thinking in that way. I've never read much on it, but I have started with the entry from the on-line Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. It's hard going for a guy who doesn't have any training in that sort of thing, but I will do it. My goal right now, though, is to get beyond reading that stuff like a kindergartener reads. Then, who knows? Maybe I'll master it someday.

Did anyone else have trouble with it when they first encountered it or is it just me?

Friday, February 04, 2005

They are Evil

I have been silent on the Iraqi elections thus far, mainly because there are a lot of people out there better qualified to talk about it than me. However, when I read Charles Krauthammer's column this morning I could not keep from commenting on one thing. A lot of people continue to defend the terrorists in Iraq as "insurgents" or whatever name is the poplular one this week. To those of you who continue to doubt the evil of these terrorists I present you with this fact:

As if to make a point even more definitively, it was not the suicide bombers but the voters they killed at the polls who were buried as martyrs. The remains of one suicide bomber were spat upon. Another suicide bomber, reported Iraq's interior minister, was a child with Down syndrome. There are no words for the depths of such depravity, sending an innocent to murder innocents, dressing this poor child in explosives and then leading him to his slaughter

This is an act of true evil. If you can't recognize that for what it is, then you are beyond hope.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

God, Logic, and Dooeyweerd

I've been meaning to blog on an interesting perspective on the nature of God I came across recently. Some of you may have heard of this before, so I will ask you to bear with me. In an e-mail exchange I discussed the Dooeyweerdian position on the nature of God with a fellow Christian. I will give a short explanation of what the Dooeyweerdian position is, but here are two links that will likely do it better:

Can God Do the Illogical? Part 1
Can God Do the Illogical? Part 2

The idea is that, contrary to what most Christians think, things like the laws of logic (or love, faithfulness, etc.) are not grounded in God's nature. Rather they are created by God and He abides by them in order to accomodate Himself to us. I think this concept of God is wrong.

Why do I reject Dooeyweerd's concept of God? Because, it seems to me, it either self-destructs or resorts to "epicycles" in order to survive. In my first wrangle with a Dooeyweerdian I suggested that if God created logic then He could take us all right up to judgment day and then say, "OK, Christians, you guys are going to Hell." When confronted with Biblical statements about His promises to Christians He might say, "I'm not bound by logic. When I made those statements I meant the opposite."

The response from the Dooeyweerdian is that God will not violate the word He has given us. In accomodating Himself to us He decided that He would follow a certain set of rules. But what if God has actually chosen deception as His rule for our universe? Perhaps God is being as deceptive as possible with us. Maybe the Bible is an elaborate lie and when we are all judged God sends all relatively honest people to Hell.

Someone might object, "that would violate God's love!" In this hypothetical reality God's love would also be part of the deception (I must admit I am a bit confused by Dooeyweerdians because sometimes it seems as though they think God could choose things like deception as virtues and sometimes it doesn't. If I'm being unfair I trust someone will come along and correct me). If the Dooeyweerdian says God won't choose deception because He desires to accomodate Himself to us, he will have to say that this desire is a part of God's nature outside of creation, which should be unacceptable to him if God indeed has none of these properties inherently. The reason for this is that this desire would have to precede creation to have any impact on God's choice. If it procedes creation where could it come from but the nature of God? In this way the Dooeyweerdian position seems to self-destruct.

I have also read that Dooeyweerdians do allow for God's created attributes to be based in some way on His nature, but that His nature is unknowable so we can't tell. Here I get the feeling we're going through epicycles. This seems like a move to save the phenomenon when it is simpler and at least as harmonious with Scripture to hold the more common position. So I reject the Dooeyweerdian position on the grounds that it either self-destructs or that it must resort to epicycles to save itself.