April 2015 Archives
April 4, 2015
The Apostles and the Resurrection of the Body
The Resurrection of Jesus is central to the message of the New Testament. Consequently many attacks against this crucial claim have been made over the centuries by opponents. The modern thesis is that the claims of Jesus rising from the dead were the end product of a process of legendary and mythological development. According to this view the belief of the earliest Christians was not that Jesus had risen bodily from the dead on the third day, but rather that Jesus had transcended death in some mystical sense and that his presence lived on in his followers in spite of his untimely demise at the hands of Roman executioners.
Some scholars have responded by appealing to the Jewish concept of resurrection in the first century, pointing out that resurrection in that context was only understood as bodily resurrection. N.T. Wright has done an excellent job of summarizing many of these arguments in his book, The Resurrection of the Son of God. But even if this is the case, isn’t it possible that the followers of Jesus had a different view? Concrete evidence of what the apostles themselves believed about resurrection would be preferable to general arguments about what first-century Jews (which of course the apostles were) thought about it.
April 6, 2015
Fractional Reserve Creation of New Money
We have had a lively discussion of usury here, and the question has come up as to just how it is that fractional reserve banking (FRB for short, hereafter) creates new money. Or, “creates new money”, if you would prefer. Part of the problem with that discussion is whether we should call what is generated 'money' or not. Before we delve into that, I think it would be beneficial to lay out in great detail just what we understand by the term FRB. Here is a short, pithy, fairly direct explanation of the skeleton of the animal:
How Fractional Reserve Banking Works
When you put your money into a bank, the bank is required to keep a certain percentage, a fraction, of that money on reserve at the bank, but the bank can lend the rest out. For instance, if you deposit $100,000 at the bank and the bank has a reserve requirement of 10 percent, the bank must keep $10,000 of your money on reserve and can lend out the $90,000.
In essence, the bank has taken $100,000 and has turned it into $190,000 by giving you a $100,000 credit on your deposits and then lending the additional $90,000 out to someone else.
Now, if you take this out a little further, you will see that your original $100,000 can become $1,000,000 by the time it is all over. Here’s how:
- You deposit $100,000 Your bank loans someone else $90,000
- That person deposits $90,000 Their bank loans someone else $81,000
- That person deposits $81,000 Their bank loans someone else $72,900
- That person deposits $72,900 Their bank loans someone else $65,610
- That person deposits $65,610 Their bank loans someone else $59,049
- That person deposits $59,049 Their bank loans someone else $53,144
- That person deposits $53,144 Their bank loans someone else $47,829
- And so on
Ultimately, your initial $100,000 can grow into $1,000,000 with a 10 percent reserve requirement.
To find out exactly how much money the fractional reserve banking system can theoretically create with your initial deposit, you can use the Money Multiplier equation:
– Total Money Created = Initial Deposit x (1 / Reserve Requirement)
For example, with the numbers we have used above, you equation would look like this:
– $1,000,000 = $100,000 x (1 / 0.10)
I would like to flesh out this skeleton with what I understand of what else is going on, so that we can see just what the argument really is all about. I will admit that I am no expert in this stuff, and if others have pertinent additions, I will be glad of it.
April 7, 2015
It don't even make good nonsense
Word came out about a month ago: Over three hundred Republicans had signed an amicus brief supporting homosexual "marriage" and asking the Supreme Court to impose it upon the entire country, striking down multiple state marriage amendments. Erick Erickson at Redstate says, "The list reads like a who’s who of political consultants and pundits."
This probably is evidence that I'm not well up on my political consultants and pundits, because I didn't recognize the majority of the names. Among the few I did recognize, some I knew to be long-time cave-ins on issues related to homosexuality (Mary Cheney). Some I knew to be long-time RINOs on pretty much everything, this issue included (Rudy Giuliani). Some surprised me a little. I'm sure I remember once or twice voting for Mike Cox for Attorney General in Michigan, probably on the basis of his endorsement from RTL-Michigan. I never knew he was a traitor at heart on so-con issues. That'll teach me to accept a pro-life endorsement as a stand-in for social conservatism.
But one name stood out and surprised me (and others) quite a bit: Ben Domenech, publisher of The Federalist web site and of The City, a publication of Houston Baptist University.
April 11, 2015
Midrash and the Gospels
Anyone who has done much reading of certain modern skeptics has probably come across the claim that the Gospels are an example of midrash. This line of argument has gained some popularity among the Jesus-myth crowd, fueled by internet atheists masquerading as scholars. So for example Robert Price has a lengthy exposition on what he claims are examples of midrash from each of the four Gospels. One of the complaints from actual scholars about many of these sorts of arguments is that the one making the argument spends little or no time defining midrash or explaining how they are using the term. In the view of critics like Price the Gospel writers read the Old Testament and then made up stories to conform to certain elements in the Scriptures. The implicit view of midrash here is one that was in vogue among earlier critics like Julius Wellhausen but has since been discredited: namely that midrash is a synonym for legend or fable. But this isn’t the case.
April 13, 2015
Post at "The Stream"--Same-Sex "Marriage" and the Persecution of the Hobbits
I have a new post up at a relatively new web site: "The Stream" is a conservative news and culture site.
My post is called "Same-Sex 'Marriage' and the Persecution of the Hobbits" and emphasizes the relative powerlessness of the common victims of the "tolerance" bullies.
It seems to me that this is particularly important to keep in mind, because it is easy for "thinky" people to consider this fight in terms of a battle of ideas and hence to make it abstract, forgetting all the non-thinky people who are at grave risk. It's certainly true that those considering going into the world of academe have to watch their backs, especially when untenured, but by no means should "thinky" people consider that to be a persecution unique to them. In fact, I tend to see the boom swinging round at this point and making it even harder for people in business than for people in the academic world. At least the latter have tenure to strive for. Moreover, losing one's job is really bad, but losing one's job and one's house and one's entire life savings is worse. At this point the shrieking harpies of tolerance (HT to Jake Freivald for giving me that phrase) are definitely going after the total ruin of any who oppose them--a scorched earth policy--as we see in the case of Barronelle Stutzman. It seems plausible to me that small business owners may have the fewest protections against this.
I also published the post in deep disgust at any who claim to be "conservative" who are advocating homosexual "marriage." That they are undeniably giving aid and comfort to a near-Communist policy of sheer persecution and destruction, while sitting pretty in their cushy academic positions, is a revolting thought. I'm looking at you, Steven Calabresi.
April 16, 2015
God and complexity
Atheists and naturalists are always trying to get something for nothing, so they are always looking for some silver bullet argument that will make it unnecessary for them to get into the messy details. By far the most popular candidate in this regard is the claim that a miracle, or Christian theism, or a miraculous Christian theism, is just "too improbable" at the outset to be bothered with. In this category we can place Hume's claim in his essay on miracles to have delivered an "everlasting check to all kinds of superstitious delusion."
A more sophisticated recent version of this is the claim that Christian theism or even classical theism is so complex an hypothesis that it has a very large burden of proof--worrisomely and discouragingly large.
In this context there is a further fear that, in responding to the problem of evil (POE) by including the idea of a fall of man, chosen evil, Satan, or even just the general notion that God intended things to be perfect but that they were marred by the choices of finite beings, we have saddled ourselves with an ontologically complex hypothesis. The idea there is that such an ontologically complex is therefore a worse explanation of the data than some allegedly more modest naturalistic hypothesis. (E.g. Suffering is a result of evolutionary chance; nature and man were not created by a good God.)
April 20, 2015
What is there to say?
The story has come through this week that Muslim immigrants threw fifteen Christians overboard from a large rubber boat between Libya and Italy. Other Christians who survived by resisting have testified against them upon arrival in Italy, and the murderers have been arrested and will be tried. (Originally when I read the story I believed that some of those thrown overboard were rescued by Italian Coast Guard, but that apparently was a misunderstanding concerning some other refugees whose boat had sunk.)
Now what is there to say to this? Well, a couple of things. First, this is an illustration of the ruthlessness and, for want of a better word, chauvinism of Islam. The killers here simply did not think there was anything wrong with throwing Christian fellow refugees overboard. There was no question of, "We're all in this boat together." No question of solidarity or kindness. One of the Christian refugees refused to pray to Allah, and that was it. Said the murderer, "Here, we only pray to Allah." It is important that we get it. While most of our readers here at W4 do get it, I fear that too many do not. This is a brutal religion to which any idea of tolerance is simply a joke.
April 22, 2015
How is this legally possible?
This story on Wisconsin's "John Doe" invasions of conservative groups and individuals is terrifying. If you thought the IRS abuse of conservatives was bad, this is much worse: Police doing home invasions on the basis of political speech and campaign contributions and telling people that they cannot tell anyone, including a lawyer.
I've heard of court gag orders before, but I have never, ever heard of a blanket court order to all the subjects of an investigation that they may not talk to anyone, including a lawyer, about the existence of the investigation and their treatment in the course of an investigation. I don't care if this law was originally passed to assist investigations of mafia kingpins. Even a mafia kingpin is entitled to due process and to talk to his lawyer.
What is this craziness? How is such a law remotely legally possible? Why has it not been struck down long ago as unconstitutional?
April 25, 2015
Against the debasement of the language
This post is arguing against using two specific terms which contribute to the debasement of the English language. (There are so many attacks on the dignity of the English language that every such Jeremiad is a drop in the bucket. But we have to try.)
These two terms are "bromance" and "mancrush." If you regard yourself as even culturally conservative, much less politically conservative, don't use these words.
April 27, 2015
No, this isn't a "way out" for Christians in the wedding business
I've seen at least two recent articles arguing that there is a "way out" for Christians in the wedding business. Here is one and here is the other. The basic idea goes something like this: If you are a florist, a baker, or a photographer, willingly agree to celebrate homosexual "weddings," but make a big deal of the fact that you are going to donate the money to marriage defense groups of some kind or other.
The Shrieking Harpies of Tolerance Dine On Their Friends
Another Thing You Can't Be Without Threats To Your Livelihood: Gay owners of a gay resort and a gay-friendly hotel -- who dare to speak politely with Ted Cruz.
You really can't make this up. If I had said this would happen, reasonable people would have disparaged me for being a paranoid dealing in slippery slopes. If you're a reasonable person, the odds are that your realistic worst-case scenario isn't paranoid enough.
The men in question own Fire Island Pines Resorts and Out NYC.
If you read the statement by the organization that canceled their charity event, you'll see them refer to two NYTimes articles, both of which show that the men did nothing more wrong than meeting with Cruz.
April 29, 2015
Amazing What You Find Doing Historical Research
Thinking about the constitutional law essay by Northwestern professor Steven Calabresi and some Brown University students (mentioned by Lydia in a couple of recent posts) I was struck by their main claim summarized in the abstract:
This essay examines the original meaning of the equality guarantee in American constitutional law. It looks are the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth century roots of the modern doctrine, and it concludes that the Fourteenth Amendment bans the Hindu Caste system, European feudalism, the Black Codes, the Jim Crow laws, and the common law's denial to women of equal civil rights to those held by men. It then considers the constitutionality of bans on same sex marriage from an Originalist perspective, and it concludes that State laws banning same sex marriage violate the Fourteenth Amendment.
- Congressional Register, 1866
So I did some digging on what the Congress that passed the Fourteenth Amendment thought about these issues and right from the get go, I discover they were not that enlightened when it came to women's "equal civil rights":
Mr. ELDRIDGE. Mr. Speaker, let me go a little further here. If it be true that the construction of this amendment, which I understand to be claimed by the gentlemen from Ohio, [Mr. Bingham] who introduced it, and which I infer from his question is claimed by the gentleman from Pennsylvania. [Mr. Stevens:] if it be true that that is the true construction of this article, is it not even then introducing a power never before intended to be conferred upon Congress. For we all know it is true that probably every State in this Union fails to give equal protection to all persons within its borders in the rights of life, liberty, and property. It may be a fault in the States that they do not do it. A reformation may be desirable, but by the doctrines of the school of politics in which I have been brought up, and which I have been taught to regard was the best school of political rights and duties in this Union, reforms of this character should come from the States, and not be forced upon them by the centralized power of the Federal Government.
Take a single case by way of illustration, and I take it simply to illustrate the point, without expressing any opinion whatever on the desirability or undesirability of a change in regard to it. Take the case of the rights of married women: did any one ever assume that Congress was to be invested with the power to legislate on that subject, and to say that married women, in regard to their rights of property, should stand on the same footing with men and unmarried women? There is not a State in the Union where disability of married women in relation to the rights of property does not to a greater or less extent still exist. Many of the States have taken steps for the partial abolition of that distinction in years past, some to a greater extent and others to a less. But I apprehend there is not to-day a State in the Union where there is not a distinction between the rights of married women, as to property, and the rights of femmes sole and men.
Mr. STEVENS. If I do not interrupt the gentleman I will say a word. When a distinction is made between two married people or two femmes sole, then it is unequal legislation: but where all of the same class are dealt with in the same way then there is no pretense of inequality.
Mr. BINGHAM. Excuse me. Mr. Speaker, we have had some most extraordinary arguments against the adoption of the proposed amendment.
But, say the gentleman, if you adopt this amendment you give to Congress the power to enforce all the rights of married women in the several States. I beg the gentleman's pardon. He need not be alarmed at the condition of married women. Those rights which are universal and independent of all local State legislation belong, by the gift of God, to every woman, whether married or single. The rights of life and liberty are theirs whatever States may enact. But the gentleman's concern is as to the right of property in married women.
Although this word property has been in your bill of rights from the year 1789 until this hour, who ever heard it intimated that anybody could have property protected in any State until he owned or acquired property there according to its local law or according to the law of some other State which he may have carried thither? I undertake to say no one. As to real estate, every one knows that its acquisition and transmission under every interpretation ever given to the word property, as used in the Constitution of the country, are dependent exclusively upon the local law of the States, save under a direct grant of the United States. But suppose any person has acquired property not contrary to the laws of the State, but in accordance with its law, are they not to be equally protected in the enjoyment of it, or are they to be denied all protection? That is the question, and the whole question, so far as that part of the case is concerned.
So it seems to me (with only some basic research) that the argument that the original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment somehow gives women the equivalent civil rights to men is nonsense. But what about their other claims?