Friday, 31 August 2012

The moral case for free enterprise

This video gives a moral argument for capitalism. Arthur Brookes claims that principles of capitalism, such as a free market, are not just effective, they are also righteous.

If you don't want to watch the video a similar article can be read here.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Monday quote

The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on my list.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Bible statistics


Included is the number of books, chapters, verses and words in the Bible. These are based on the English Standard Version (ESV) 2007 version, main text. Footnotes, chapter numbers, verse numbers, and book names are excluded. Psalm introductions are included. Word count is via LibreOffice. A brief manual check suggests this is more accurate than the OpenOffice word count I used previously. Verse count is from looking at the final verse number for each chapter. It will be incorrect for chapters that miss verses*. Verse data is cross checked on this data and this data. I diverge from the former slightly which uses a Catholic translation, I am concordant with the latter excepting the Psalm title count.

I realise chapters and verses are artificial constructs. Chapters were inserted into the Bible circa 1228 by Stephen Langton. The Old Testament was possibly divided into verses by Isaac Nathan circa 1448 and the New Testament by Robert Stephanus in 1551.

Book Chapters Verses Words
Old Testament
Genesis 50 1533 36321
Exodus 40 1213 30881
Leviticus 27 859 23431
Numbers 36 1288 30950
Deuteronomy 34 959 27528
Joshua 24 658 17935
Judges 21 618 18281
Ruth 4 85 2425
1 Samuel 31 810 24118
2 Samuel 24 695 19734
1 Kings 22 816 23415
2 Kings 25 719 22760
1 Chronicles 29 942 18522
2 Chronicles 36 822 24779
Ezra 10 280 6889
Nehemiah 13 406 9842
Esther 10 167 5478
Job 42 1070 17603
Psalms 150 2577 42284
Proverbs 31 915 14530
Ecclesiastes 12 222 5333
Song of Solomon 8 117 2533
Isaiah 66 1292 35244
Jeremiah 52 1364 40432
Lamentations 5 154 3251
Ezekiel 48 1273 37184
Daniel 12 357 11224
Hosea 14 197 4964
Joel 3 73 1895
Amos 9 146 4047
Obadiah 1 21 604
Jonah 4 48 1298
Micah 7 105 3000
Nahum 3 47 1111
Habakkuk 3 56 1356
Zephaniah 3 53 1556
Haggai 2 38 1083
Zechariah 14 211 6050
Malachi 4 55 1738
OT Total 929 23261 581609
New Testament
Matthew 28 1071 22640
Mark 16 678 14344
Luke 24 1151 24605
John 21 879 18882
Acts 28 1007 23464
Romans 16 433 9467
1 Corinthians 16 437 9268
2 Corinthians 13 257 6050
Galatians 6 149 3102
Ephesians 6 155 3010
Philippians 4 104 2144
Colossians 4 95 1934
1 Thessalonians 5 89 1841
2 Thessalonians 3 47 1065
1 Timothy 6 113 2315
2 Timothy 4 83 1631
Titus 3 46 926
Philemon 1 25 457
Hebrews 13 303 6903
James 5 108 2317
1 Peter 5 105 2389
2 Peter 3 61 1550
1 John 5 105 2490
2 John 1 13 298
3 John 1 15 303
Jude 1 25 604
Revelation 22 404 11450
NT Total 260 7958 175449
Grand total 1189 31219 757058

This information may be more useful if derived from the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament texts, though there would still be disagreement over which texttype or critical text to use. The Greek New Testament has ~138000 words.

If I have my calculations correct the number of words in the ESV Bible is 757058 excluding book titles and 757143 including them.

* Such as Matthew 12:47; Matthew 17:21; Matthew 18:11; Matthew 23:14; Mark 7:16; Mark 9:44; Mark 9:46; Mark 11:26; Mark 15:28; Luke 17:36; Luke 23:17; Luke 24:40; John 5:4; Acts 8:37; Acts 15:34; Acts 24:7; Acts 28:29; Romans 16:24.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Wild claims and healthy skepticism

Roger Olson wrote an excellent article encouraging Christians to be more sceptical at times. It is a hard balance, some are sceptical about everything, others buy every new claim and conspiracy theory. I think it fine to be open to the possibility of conspiracy so long one is able to be disabused of the idea. I think healthy scepticism need not be derided either. Possibly a slowness to come to firm conclusions when the is lack of data may be the best option.
I have long been of the opinion that Christians need to be led by their spiritual leaders into a default attitude of healthy skepticism regarding wild claims of supernatural occurrences. I think non-Christians also need to be educated to exercise a certain amount of common sense skepticism about things that seem blatantly doubtful such as alien abductions.
He discusses healings, cults and Satanism, and predominantly recovered memories of childhood abuse.
She revealed to me that under counseling she had recovered memories of being ritually abused as a child—by members of her church. I tried to suspend disbelief which is clearly what she wanted. But then she continued to tell me how, until recently, she had no memories of any of these events. Only under intense counseling by this man (an unlicensed, independent “pastoral counselor”) had she “recovered” these memories.

My skepticism began to kick in (which I did not show) as she continued her story. Gradually, over several months, she “remembered” more and more about the events. By the end, she had come to “remember” that the pastor and his wife, all the deacons and their wives, and even her parents were present at these Satanic ceremonies and participated in sexually, ritually abusing her and other children. Then she dropped the bomb. The whole town, including the mayor and every civic leader and business owner—hundreds of people—were involved in this intergenerational Satanic cult that encompassed the whole town and even the whole county.
I agree generally with the article so am reluctant to offer correction. However I think a couple of issues are worth noting.

The first is mentioned above: conspiracies are a possibility, though we probably shouldn't see them under every bush.

The second is that an explanation of phenomena is required. We may not know the explanation which is fine if we lack information. It may be that people are lying, or that they are convinced of a falsehood by another. Nevertheless demonic deception remains a possibility; whether confusing the mind, or deceptive appearances.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Monday quote

Had it not been for the rise of the literal interpretation of the Bible and the subsequent appropriation of biblical narratives by early modern scientists, modern science may not have arisen at all. In sum, the Bible and its literal interpretation have played a vital role in the development of Western science.

Peter Harrison (1955–).

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Order of magnitude

An order of magnitude is a geometric scale increasing or decreasing by the ratio of 10. It is applied to various measurements such as distance, money, or even just numerical value.

The distance to the moon is 400,000 km, to the sun is 150,000,000 km. The ratio between these is 375, thus the sun is more than 2 orders of magnitude (more than 100×) further away from the earth than the moon is. The diameter of the earth is 12,740 km and its circumference is 40,000 km. The moon is an order of magnitude (~10×) further from the earth than the distance of circumnavigating the earth.

My issue with orders of magnitude is while useful, a ratio of 10 seems very large and completely arbitrary. It relates to our use of base-10 (decimal), which probably derives from our pentadactyly.

A more natural scale for orders of magnitude would be binary. This is the lowest practical ratio. An order of magnitude larger would be twice the size, 2 orders of magnitude 4 times the size.

Of course a constant multiplier, be it 2 or 10, represents a logarithmic function. Order of magnitude being logarithmic may be better modelled on the natural logarithm. Using base e (~2.71828), while difficult numerically, would mean that the scale of magnitude is ~2.7.

A thousand-fold difference is 3 orders of magnitude (decimal). It would be ~10 orders of magnitude using binary, or ~7 orders or magnitude with base-e.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Did Pharaoh die in the Rea Sea?

Who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus? is my first or second most viewed post.

Rasec asks
Where does it say that the Exodus Pharaoh died in the Red Sea?
I think this a useful question because it reflects attentiveness to what Scripture does and does not say. The Bible specifies many things, it implies or suggests many more things that are likely to be what Scripture intends. However we can think the Bible says something when it does not clearly say so, or we misread what it does say. Implication is legitimate, but we need to also focus closely on specifics at times. This is not to say that we can isolate small phrases from larger contexts and have the Bible say contrary things, rather our small assumptions may not always be completely correct.

In Exodus it says that Pharaoh took his army in pursuit of the Israelites
When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly. The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh's horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.
It says "he [Pharaoh] pursued the people of Israel" and the "Egyptians pursued them." These are parallel. Pharaoh and his army are pursuing the Israelites. Further, "Egyptians" means the army, not every Egyptian citizen. Contextual clues tell us this.

Later when the Israelites lament leaving Egypt "Egyptian" is more generic, it need not be limited to a soldier.
“Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”
When it comes to the Israelites' deliverance there is an emphasis on the complete destruction of the Egyptians,
The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. And in the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.” So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal course when the morning appeared. And as the Egyptians fled into it, the Lord threw the Egyptians into the midst of the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained. But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.

Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.
God threw them into panic, clogged their wheels, returned water on them, threw them into the midst of the sea, covered the chariots and horsemen. Of all who followed the Israelites into the sea not a single person remained and the Egyptians were seen dead on the shore. The repeated emphasis here is to demonstrate not a single person survived,
of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea

Now it is possible that just the charioteers followed Israel into the sea and the army and Pharaoh remained on dry land. But this seems less likely given the victory song
“Pharaoh's chariots and his host he cast into the sea,/
and his chosen officers were sunk in the Red Sea. (Exodus 15)
I think the emphasis on the chariots and horses is because they were representative of a powerful army whereas the Israelites were all on foot. The best of the army are used to emphasis the degree of deliverance. Exodus does not appear to be implying the all the infantry stayed on the shore while the cavalry pursued.

Pharaoh may have survived, and Exodus does not specify his death, though it seems to be implied in the exhaustive destruction of the army and the identification of Pharaoh with his army. If Pharaoh survived this detail would need to be specified as an exception.

Though we also have firm confirmation of Pharaoh's death elsewhere. In the Psalms we read of this battle,
to him who divided the Red Sea in two,/
for his steadfast love endures forever;/
and made Israel pass through the midst of it,/
for his steadfast love endures forever;/
but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,/
for his steadfast love endures forever; (Psalm 136)
Pharaoh died at the parting of the Red Sea. Exodus strongly implies it and Psalm 136 specifies it.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Monday quote

I have a high tolerance for violence, high tolerance for bad language, and zero tolerance for nudity. There is a reason for these differences. The violence is make-believe. They don’t really mean those bad words. But that lady is really naked, and I am really watching. And somewhere she has a brokenhearted father.

John Piper

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Does illegal abortion increase the death of mothers?

Peter Saunders, CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship in the UK argues that improvements in maternal mortality, including deaths associated with abortion, were due to improved medical practices and not to the legalisation of abortion.
First, maternal mortality from all causes, including abortion fell dramatically long before abortion was legalised as a result of better medical care.

Second, many so called ‘back-street abortions were actually carried out ‘illegally’ by ‘skilled professional’ nurses and doctors using surgical instruments in sterile conditions.

Third, legalising abortion did not eliminate all maternal deaths, as some women now began to die of legal abortions, and in addition there was still a trickle of illegal abortions.
Pregnancy and birth is not without danger. Modern medical practices have reduced the harms to both mother and baby.

If abortion is the intentional killing of a human person, the murder of a fetus, then the unintentional death of the persons involved in the activity is not an argument for legalising abortion. However it seems that maternal deaths following abortion are not even related to the legality of abortion. Therefore are no grounds to propose legalising abortion anticipating that maternal mortality might decrease.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Monday quote

An avid golfer, Kim Jong-Il routinely shoots three or four holes-in-one, according to North Korean state media. Reasonable odds of doing this in one round are around 1 in 2,560,000,000,000,000,000 or the equivalent of being struck by lightning over 100 thousand times a second during a typical three hour game. This explains Kim's hair problems.

James Wanliss

Saturday, 4 August 2012

New Zealand adults lack literacy and numeracy skills
This is concerning,
Close to 1 million working age adults in New Zealand lack the literacy and numeracy skills needed to function in a modern workplace.

To put it another way, about 4 in 10 (that's 2 in 5) adults have difficulties with reading, writing, maths and communication.
New Zealand only has about 4 million people with a good number of them children (presumably excluded from the analysis).

It is somewhat ironic that many people, including teachers, complained about the introduction of national standards (national testing and comparison) in numeracy and literacy some years back. The teaching focus for primary aged children should be the foundational subjects—numeracy and literacy. And this is what many parents want.

It will be interesting to see if the introduction of charter schools (possibly secondary level) will improve our nation's performance.


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