The Exploiting Deficit

The Congress recently passed and the President signed into law a 2,2 trillion dollar spending bill to provide for businesses and individuals to survive the terrible measures that had to be taken to stem the advance of the COVID 19 virus.  It also includes massive spending to support health services. I agree that it was necessary though sadly some, mostly Democrats, added spending that had nothing to do with the problem. Thankfully that is a very small percentage of the bill. It almost seems ungracious to look at the issue of deficit spending during this time.  However, the issue of the deficit is an important one, and the growing deficit could lead to devastating consequences. It is important for disciples of Yeshua to know something about this issue. In my book Social Justice, I argue that deficit spending is a social justice issue.  Believers in Yeshua should be biblical justice warriors but on a sound basis of evidence. 

 

When I was majoring in philosophy at Wheaton College, I considered those interested in business and economics to be inferior to those of us who cared about the important issues of life.  I was so foolish. The business people created the wealth that paid the bills that enabled me to study philosophy. I was a left-leaning returning to faith student. I actually called myself a Christian socialist in the early 70s.  Then I studied a few books on economics. What an eye-opener. I actually learned how money is created and how economies expand. My socialist views simply would not hold up since the expansion of wealth would not take place long-term in a socialist economy.   In this study, I learned something about deficits. The theory is that a nation should keep a surplus, balanced budget or an almost balanced budget unless there is a recession. Deficit spending in times of recession would lift the economy, but in times of economic expansion, the deficit can be paid down.  There are reasons why this is a social justice issue. Mainly the big reason is that deficits compromise the possibility of the government being responsible in taxing, spending and social programs. 

 

  1. An expanding economy is necessary to increase wealth for the mass of the population.  A shrinking economy increases poverty. As President John Kennedy said when approving a massive tax cut to spur business expansion, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”  There is a social justice issue in business expansion. It is that the expansion has to really benefit the average employee. As such, tax incentives should be motivating business expansion for all, and limiting tax shelters and executive compensation packages that are given to those who do not really expand businesses for all.
  2. Taxes provide necessary services for the public; infrastructure, transportation, national defense and more.  
  3. Taxes also provide social services, including welfare payments when needed, support for job training, education, health care, social security, and more.  Welfare needs to have incentives for people to go to work or get trained so that welfare does not create a perpetual poor or underclass. I am one that does believe in social services and am not a libertarian.  However, I want those services to lead to greater self-sufficiency. 

 

Basically, a deficit is produced when the government takes in less in tax revenue than what it spends.  The government then prints more money. The idea is that the amount of money created is justified by the size and expansion of the economy.  It is able to print more money because it sells bonds or obligations to finance the deficit. The deficit is not only on paper but is a real obligation to pay those who hold the debt.  It can be individuals holding government bonds or even nations that buy our debt. People are willing to do this for the return they get and until maturity, the bond can be sold. The government can issue new bonds to pay off the old bonds that mature.  The government is not obligated to pay the principal of the debt but only the interest. When the government continually increases debt, more and more of the budget goes to finance the interest. We also have a problem of future commitments to legally mandated spending for such things as social security and Medicaid etc. (Entitlements) These programs are perpetual and take up the largest share of the federal budget.  The projections of revenue and these mandated obligations are such that economists project a huge deficit as well for these programs, even if not a present deficit. 

 

Economists generally agree that if you take too much out of the private sector to finance government programs, business expansion slows down. The growth in the wealth pie can even shrink.  More people become poor. The big debate is among economists who have differences as to where that point of too much taxation is. However, a growing deficit adds another big challenge. A point is reached (as with Greece) where the interest is so large that the Government no longer has the funds for its spending for the public good including social welfare programs.  Higher taxes are no longer an option. As such the expanding deficit at some point can destroy social welfare.  

 

Why does this happen?  It is because politicians spend for the immediate future and for their own re-election.  Taking the long-term view is not to their personal benefit. Politicians lack self- control at a huge level.  They want the program for their constituents now and will increase the deficit to achieve this. It also is to their political benefit.  Deficits are too abstract an issue for most voters. Who votes for fiscal responsibility? People vote on the basis of their immediate prosperity.  However, slowing the expansion of government so that the government lives within its means, will over the long haul produce much more funds for social spending.  But social spending is squeezed when so much goes to the deficit. There would be so much more to spend today if politicians did not pile on deficit after deficit in the past.  The end result of all this is either cutting benefits or massive inflation to continue to pay the face amount in money that is of much less worth.  It can lead to national bankruptcy, and no country wants to default on its obligations or there would be deep depression. Deficit spending ultimately will destroy justice-social welfare spending ability.  This has happened in other nations. This can then lead to social upheaval and disintegration. 

 

If this is not dealt with, there will be a day of harsh reckoning.  There may be coming a day that only private help and mutual help in the community and family will be available.  We no longer have politicians even talking about this. It hardly seems recent any more (2010) that one Democrat Erskine Bowles, and one Republican Alan Simpson, were shouting the alarm and were leading a commission to deal with this.  The day of reckoning will come. Had the United States been responsible then we could have swallowed the 2. 2 Trillion bill just past without much difficulty. However, with the deficit we have, now everything in the future will be squeezed.  As many say, our children and grandchildren will pay for it. That is why this is a biblical social justice issue. I hope that many of you will obtain my book, Social Justice.  

 

The End of the Blue and White Party

In an unbelievable end to the saga of the Israel government stalemate, Benny Gantz, the leader of Blue and White decided to join with Likud in a new unity government and allow Benjamin Netanyahu to continue as the Prime Minister.  This is a stunning development.  It has led to the breaking up of the Blue and White Party.  Yesh Atid led by Yair Lapide, and Moshe Yaalon are angry and disappointed, but they did not have a path to a government with two of the Blue and White members refusing to vote for a Gantz government if it depended on getting the votes of the Arab Party, the Joint List.   Lapide will go into the opposition.  This is less like a unity government than Gantz joining a Netanyahu government.  I think that Gantz did this due to the emergency situation with the virus and the danger of being discredited for not seeking unity at this time.  Bibi has promised him that he would become the Prime Minister in 18 months.  It appears that in this arrangement the Ultra Orthodox will keep their power, but with Gantz’s faction and Labor joining the government is it possible that the power of the Ultra-Orthodox will be less.  I don’t think it is likely. The only possibility Gantz had, and it was a very slim chance, was that he would have stuck to his guns and voted in the new parliament to pass a law that a person could not serve as Prime Minister if under indictment.  Then he would hope that Likud without Bibi would not carry out its threat of no unity government if they did this.   He could then keep have kept Blue and White together.   Gantz decided to not take this chance.  Bibi survives again, the cat of nine lives.  Will he survive his trial for bribery etc.?

I have lived in ambivalence through this whole time.  I saw Bibi as the better candidate re: the Land, the Trump peace plan and annexing the settlements.  Now the settlements have to be taken off the negotiating table with the Palestinians.  Removing the West Bank Israeli cities and towns is no longer possible.  Bibi is stronger on this.  Gantz had qualified his support for the Trump plan as needing international support.  If this was the standard, you could kiss the Trump plan goodbye.  Trump has indicated that Israel can annex the territories of the settlements and the Jordan valley if the Palestinians do not come to the negotiating table.

However, my other issue was the Ultra-Orthodox control and oppression in Israel.  Bibi is in their pocket. If Lapide and Avigdor Liberman of Israel Batainu had been in the government, the power of the Ultra-Orthodox, who bleed the state of needed funds, and who control immigration to the detriment of qualified people, would have ended.  This control will not likely be ended soon.  I voted for Blue and White so they would be large enough so that in coalition with Bibi the Ultra-Orthodox would have to give up power.  I also hoped for equal spending for the Arab Israelis for hospitals, roads,  police and education.  Defunding the Ultra-Orthodox welfare society where men don’t work and only study Talmud all day could be key to this justice.   But this looks like it is not to be at this time.

Well, stay tuned.  We have not heard from Liberman, but he is not needed at this point and will probably go into the opposition.  What will the government be like in 18 months.  Bibi has said, no tricks and he will keep his word.  Time will tell.  It is possible that there are not enough Knesset votes to fund the welfare society of the Ultra-Orthodox. Let’s hope so.

Corona Virus: More Questions & More Political Intrigue in Israel

Some in Israel are questioning the national restrictions to fight the Corona virus.  Are they really based on science or alarm which goes too far?  For example, who is it dangerous for someone to take a walk outside for more than ten minutes if they keep six meters away from those they pass?  How is ten minutes safer with this two meter rule than 30 minutes?  We are allowed to go to the grocery store or to take out stores, other food stores and pharmacies. That is more dangerous than a walk outside.  Some people are required by their health conditions to go for walks. 

Or here is another question.  Why wouldn’t it be more prudent, once there is sufficient testing to know virus location spots, to put the strict restrictions on cities and towns that have the virus and allow those within a town without any cases to have freedom, but to not leave the town except to commute to a safe workspace.  We know where the hot spots are.  There are places with no infections.  Within those enclaves, there could be more freedom.   In the United States, why wouldn’t this work really well for small cities and towns with no cases, rather than restricting the whole country?  In Israel there are places with no infections.  Should they be under the same standards as the areas where there are infected people?

In the midst of all this the political chaos in Israel continues to be even more amazing.  I am asking my Facebook constituents to be praying for us, especially this week.   Here is a little summary.  Last week, Benjamin Netanyahu’s (Bibi) justice minister (Ohana) unilaterally postponed the trial of Bibi until May 24th.  The corona virus was the given reason.  However, many pointed out that at this point the trail would be sharing information and dealing with preliminaries that could have been done safely.  It seems that this will not be challenged in the Supreme court.

The second amazing thing is the speaker of the Knesset (Parliament), Yuli Edelstein, shut down the Knesset.  The virus was given as the reason.  However, most believe that the reason was political.  If the parliament meets, though there is not yet a new executive government with the ongoing stalemate, the Knesset can vote to remove Edelstein and choose a new speaker that is not Likud.  There are probably 61 votes, a one vote majority, to do this.  The big issue then would be to form an arrangements committee.  If the anti-Bibi 61 have require a one vote majority on this committee than they can arrange for laws to be voted on.  The big fear from Bibi and Likud is that they will then arrange the passage of a law stating that an indicted person cannot serve as Prime Minister.  President Reuven Rivlen (Likud) has called on Edelstein to open the Knesset and said democracy is at stake.  The legal advisor to the Knesset has given the same opinion.  Blue and White lead by Benny Gantz says that they will go to the Supereme Court to see that the Knesset is open. Now Edelstein is relenting and says he will open the Knesset on Monday.

In the midst of all this, the Times of Israel says that Gantz is now open to serving in a unity government with Netanyahu leading for either an emergency 6 months or in a three year unity with Bibi serving 18 months, but then having to relinquish leadership to Gantz after that.  This would have to be made law so Bibi could not back out.  However, two of his Blue and White partners, Boggie Yaalon and Yair Lapid, say they are against this, and if Gantz does this, it will break up the party. 

All this is going on in the midst of the virus plague. I think Gantz is seeking to be a stateman and wants the best for Israel in this plague situation.  He is willing to give up his pledge to not serve with an indicted Prime Minister for the sake of Israel’s present need.  Of course, if Bibi is found guilty (who knows how long the trial would take) he would have to step down.

Israel is now in a terrible situation politically and economically.  Sectors of the government can not function without a normal government.   Major sectors of the economy are shut down.  People are in isolation.  Businesses are going out of business and many people do not have back up funds to survive.  We have people in our own congregation who are in very difficult straits.  Meanwhile we, in our connected network, pray for revival.  Do pray much with us!

Corona Questions

For some time, I have been questioning the response to the Coronavirus and the economic devastation it is causing. This response is shutting down businesses and can cause great economic pain and even death (some will commit suicide in my view if their losses are too great.  Others, losing their income will not be able to afford medicine and food. The policies are like a huge tax that all are paying to fight the virus. In Israel, we are seeing the most restrictive policies of any nation except for France. People here are losing jobs with no pay compensation.  Some businesses will go under. Is it worth it? 

 

The other day a spokesperson from the Center for Disease Control in the United States noted some very strange things about this virus.  It is very different from the flu both in how mild and how severe. Usually, when a person has the flu, he or she knows it. When a person has this virus it may be severe.  Those with compromised health can die from it and in larger numbers. However, it is milder than the flu. The expert did not know the statistics and noted that they would not be ever known because many people will never know they had it.  They would have little or in some cases no symptoms. So those with mild symptoms can pass it to those who are in great danger. However, this means that the death percentage being reported is certainly much lower than the statistics since it is based on the percentage of people that die in proportion to known cases.  No one has any idea of how many cases are unknown. 

 

In light of all this, is the economy destroying measures being taken in many countries in the right direction?  Why not just isolate those who are most at risk so they are protected. For the rest of the population, they live a normal life, taking more than the usual precautions that are taken for the flu season.  They also would keep social distance by spreading their tables more apart in cafes, take care in gyms, etc. Was I the only one thinking this? Then Sunday night on Fox News, Steve Hilton, he said the same thing.  He said that he has not been able to get any health expert in the government to answer the question as to why this would not be a better policy. The economic toll is terrible and the potential for inflation from massive government bailouts has to be credited as well.  Well, I expect someone will answer Steve and prove that he (and I) are wrong. My understanding is that the British are approaching it more according to this alternative. They may be totally wrong! It is a big controversy as of this writing. 

 

Here is a quote from the great thinker, Victor David Hanson.  “Or, if the virus can scare us enough that we cease working and interacting, our canceled-out economy will grind to a halt.”

 

Here is a snippet from a British Financial Newspaper.

 

“Herd immunity.” In the absence of therapeutic treatments or a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, it suggests that there’s safety in numbers. Physicians say the reality is far more complex.

 

Patrick Vallance, the U.K.’s chief scientific adviser, said herd immunity is an option the government is exploring in its effort to grapple with the coronavirus-borne illness COVID-19. The aim would be to allow immunity to build up among members of the population who are least at risk of dying from COVID-19.

 

“What we don’t want is everybody to end up getting it in a short period of time so we swamp and overwhelm [National Health Service] services,” he told BBC Radio 4 on Friday. “Our aim is to try and reduce the peak, broaden the peak, not suppress it completely.”

 

His aim is to build up a herd immunity so more people are immune to this disease, thereby reducing the rate of transmission and protecting those who are most at risk of dying from COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

 

“If you suppress something very, very hard, when you release those measures it bounces back, and it bounces back at the wrong time,” Vallance said. The U.K. has had 1,395 confirmed cases as of Sunday and 35 deaths, according to data the latest tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

 

The approach represents a polar opposite to that implied in this week’s national-emergency declaration by U.S. President Donald Trump. The U.S. has had at least 3,774 confirmed coronavirus cases and 69 deaths. Coronavirus has infected 169,385 people globally and at least 6,513 deaths, John Hopkins said; it also reported 77,257 recoveries.

 

 

Israeli Politics and the Coronavirus 

It is most amazing to note that Israel is in the midst of its third political stalemate after inconclusive elections.  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party, Likud, is already talking about another election!  At the same time, Israel has embraced the most severe restrictions of any country to try to manage the threat of the virus.  The planes are not flying, and the schools will now be closed. Closing the schools will be a terrible trial for working parents!  There are to be no meetings of over 100 people.  The hotels are mostly empty. Israel’s tourism industry is suspended.  The economic consequences are terrible.  All this is happening at the same time as the United States is holding its presidential primaries.  History may note them as the virus primaries. The United States itself is embracing greater and greater restrictions.  Even the National Basketball League has suspended games!!

What is God up to in allowing this terrible situation worldwide? Could revival follow?  Some are praying for this.

It seems amazing that in the midst of such a plague that Israel is in political limbo.  We really need to see our helplessness and our need for God, for we cannot even form a government.  It is not only that the vote failed to put either the Likud or the Blue and White, the two largest parties over the top.  A government could be formed but for the rigid positions taken by some politicians, an amazing stubbornness.  My two favorite Israeli English language newspapers, the Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel are in agreement, and I agree with them. Just where are the points of stubbornness?

  1. Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi) bears responsibility by insisting on remaining the head of his party though under indictment.  The trial procedures begin on March 17th.  There are several things that could be negotiated.  Blue and White would be in a unity government with Likud if not led by Bibi due to the indictment.  They say they will not be in a government led by him due to the indictment. Several solutions could be found.  Likud could choose a new leader and even say that after his trial, if found innocent, Bibi could return to leadership through a new party vote.  Likud could commit to this.
  2. Benjamin Netanyahu insists that all his right-wing partners be included in any government.  This is a non-starter.  This right wing includes the Ultra-Orthodox who have a stranglehold over the government.  I have written many times on how their welfare state within the state is bleeding the government.  They also say that they will not be in a government with Blue and White.  My view on this?  Good.  Let there be a unity government without them.  This would be very helpful.
  3. There are two Blue and White Party members and one Labor-Gesher member who will not allow a government to form through the votes of the Joint List Arab party because the Arabs are not Zionists but want a bi-national state.  This seems really foolish on the part of these three members, since after the vote, Bibi will be gone and there could be a unity government. At any rate, the Joint List will not be part of the government but only give the vote to end Bibi’s reign.  All they are asking is parity in government services spending.  Indeed, this coalition could pass a law that a person under indictment could not serve. 
  4. Blue and White could change their position and accept Bibi in a rotation for Prime Minister with Benny Gantz due to the very bad situation of not being able to form a government and to avoid a fourth election.  It seems dire enough to defend such a change.  They could promise pardon to him for allowing General Gantz of Blue and White to lead the government in the first rotation.  Bibi can lead again if found innocent.  For this to happen, Bibi has to let the Ultra-Orthodox go.  Shas cannot control the interior department.  There has to be a cut in welfare for men to study Talmud and Rabbinic arguments all day! 
  5. The Joint List, including Balad, the more anti-Israel faction, could vote to form the government with Blue and White and accept that only some of their demand can be met since the budget will cannot immediately provide all their demands.  The government can take significant steps. How about a cut in Ultra-Orthodox welfare to finance classrooms, roads, police and hospitals in the Arab areas!  Balad refuses to support a government and has an all or nothing stand.    

There are many possible solutions, but so many are being stubborn.  It is amazing!  And some speak of a fourth election which again would likely be inconsequential. Can Bibi stay in power by having elections forever?    

Meanwhile, the country is in turmoil not only in politically but with the virus.  What a time for us to pray, exercise faith, heal the sick and share the Good News!  What a great time for the Spirit to be poured out. 

The Bizarre Israel Political Situation

On the night of the Israel elections, the exit polls and early counting gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party and the other parties that would join his coalition 60 Knesset (Parliament) members.  It looked like he would be able to flip one vote somewhere to gain the 61 votes necessary to form a government.  With these results, we went to sleep that night.  The next morning Bibi had slipped to 59 and then the next day to 58.  These are now the official results.  The certainty that he would form the next government evaporated.  Amazing! 

Now another new and strange twist is taking place.  With the Arab Joint List Party, the opposition has 62 votes.  They will not form a government together since the centrist Blue and White Party will not join with the Arab Party in a government since they are not Zionists.  However, they are now putting forth the idea that they might vote to pass legislation to preclude Benjamin Netanyahu from forming a government.  Blue and White under General Benny Gantz has said they are willing to form a government with Bibi’s Likud Party but not with him as the leader because he has been indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.  They could pass a law stating that an indicted Prime Minister cannot form a government.  If this happens, it could solve the dilemma for many Messianic Jews.  I will explain.

Messianic Jews in Israel are ardent Zionists.  They like the idea of annexing the towns in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).  They think that Bibi can now do this because the Trump peace plan has been rejected by the Arabs and negotiations are rejected as well.  This opens the door for unilateral annexation.  The right parties are correct that the old two state solution making the ‘67 armistice lines the border is no longer possible.  The Zionist left is not facing reality.  Yes, their rational position of separation and two states is reasonable in that it seeks to keep a large Jewish majority though a separation of populations and the elimination of the many towns except for the larger cities.  They hope that the Palestinian Arabs would accept such a plan but they have proven by the past peace offers that they would.   The Trump plan does this separation but with Israel keeping the West Bank towns and cities.   Some still oppose even the limited state that Trump proposes.  Since the Arabs have rejected the plan some other solution for the West Bank Arabs needs to be found.  Some still wait for them to have citizenship in Jordan and residency in Israel.  This is unlikely in the near future.

Messianic Jews, however, are ambivalent about Bibi for other reasons.  It is that he is fully in bed with the Ultra-Orthodox and especially the Sephardic Shas Party that controls the Interior Department and opposes Messianic Jews.  The Ultra-Orthodox control conversion, weddings and Jewish status issues which makes life very hard for 400,000 Russian Jews who are not accepted as Jewish by Rabbinic law. They make their conversion too hard, and they cannot marry in Israel!  Plus, the Ultra-Orthodox do not serve in the army.  Most of their men do not work.  They receive welfare so they can split hairs on Rabbinic discussions and arguments in the Yeshivas.  This will someday lead to bankrupting the country, and it presently undercuts funds for services and salaries in Israel.

However, if Likud has a new leader who would apply the same policies on the Trump plan and could join with Blue and White, and Liberman’s  Russian Jewish anti-Ultra Orthodox but conservative party, Yisrael Bateinu, then we could see policies that most Messianic Jews would support.   This includes both the issue the Land in Judea and Sumaria, and on the issue of the control of the society by the Ultra-Orthodox.  This is a possibility but not at all certain.

I for one was disappointed by Gantz saying that he supported the Trump plan but would want international support plus support from Jordan and Egypt to implement it.  Well, that would be the end of the plan.  But if Likud leads the next government without Bibi, it could solve the problem.  Bibi’s indictment is not political as he claims.  How do we know this?  Because the indictment comes from his former supporter who did not want to do this, Attorney General Mendelblit.  This Likud conservative did not want to do this, but the evidence forced him into it. Bibi has served his country well, and I believe he would get a pardon from the Knesset if he stepped down before such a law would pass.  This is where things stand this evening.  Amazing! What a saga!

THE THIRD ELECTION

This Monday, March 2st, we will go to the polls to vote for the Parliament (the Knesset) for the third time. Twice we had inconclusive elections, and no coalition could be formed.

Amazingly, after all this, and with his trial set to begin for bribery, it appears that Benjamin Netanyahu is gaining on Benny Gantz and the Blue and White party. It is still my contention that the best government for Israel would be a coalition with Likud and Blue and White. That seems more remote but not impossible. Recent events have been disappointing to me.

First, the leader of the Arab Joint List has made statements that are so extreme that it now may preclude even their support to form a Blue and White government in a parliamentary vote even though they would not be in the government. He has made conditions that require Blue and White to abandon the Gaza defense operations and West Bank anti-terrorist operations. His demands for money for the Arab sector are beyond what Israel can accept (though they deserve much more funding). He has actually empowered Netanyahu.

Another thing that is disappointing is that Benny Gantz has said that he supports the Trump Peace plan but will only move forward on it with international support. If he means more than the U. S., Britain, Brazil, and a few others, then he won’t implement the plan. Bibi is already moving in accord with the United States to apply sovereignty to the areas outlined as being part of Israel in the Trump plan. I think this has lost votes for Gantz and am surprised that the strong conservative, Moshe Yaalon, Bibi’s former defense secretary, did not coach on a better position.

I still believe that we need to have a government where the ultra-Orthodox are less powerful. They are an existential threat to Israel since their population growth in is great, and most of the men do not work and have to be supported by the State. The Ultra-Orthodox Shas Party controls citizenship and precludes important ways forward for some 400,000 Russian Jews and Messianic Jews. The Ultra-Orthodox want to study hair-splitting Talmudic arguments all day and are not productive. This cannot go on, but Bibi’s right-wing government will give them what they want.

We need a lot of prayer. I would like to see a Likud government with Blue and White, may be led by another Likud leader like Gideon Saar. Despite Bibi’s reputation as Mr. Security, I think others in Likud are stronger. In this week’s weekend Jerusalem Post a recent head of the National Security Council in Israel, Uzi Arad, noted as I have said in the past, that Bibi talks strong but acts weak, allowing Hezbollah in Lebanon to re-arm with powerful missiles. He as well not acted strongly enough to deter Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza. I do have a sense that God is involved and his providence will eventually work this out.

A Great Read

Recently I finished a book by Dr. David Berlinski, Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University.  Entitled The Devil’s Delusion, Berlinski shows how atheist scientists constantly go beyond science to claim things that science does not show and indeed sometimes shows the opposite of what is being claimed.  Berlinski says he is not religious, but he shows himself fed up with the ridiculous and incoherent statements of scientists that are mere assertions of an atheistic faith that are based on nothing.  The book is brilliant, and Berlinski shows himself adept at dealing with mathematics, physics, theoretical physics, and biology. The book is similar to recent books especially by one atheist and one former atheist.  The first is by Thomas Nagel who in Mind and Cosmos, argues that the Darwinian theory of evolution in its classical and its revisionist forms (punctuated equilibrium-Gould, and the selfish gene-Dawkins) are incoherent.  It is the preferred myth of atheists. For Nagel, mind in some way that we do not understand, must be inherent in the universe. He counsels us to look for a new theory, though he is trying to stay an atheist.  The famous atheist philosopher of science, Antony Flew, went farther, and after being the dean of atheist thinking concluded on the basis of biological systems that God must exist.  

 

The advantage of Berlinski’s book is that it shows in illustration after illustration how atheist scientists leave the realm of real science for pseudo-science philosophy which not only has no basis but is incoherent, and really is only faith assertions.  He especially shows this on the implications of what is known as the anthropic principle.  In 1974  Brandon Carter gave a famous lecture at Oxford that presented in detail the extraordinary precision of the nature of the universe as so precisely fine-tuned, that it appeared as if it was purposely arranged to support human life.  Many others have written on this, atheists and believers in God. Paul Davies and Michael Denton are two of the best. Atheist scientists, therefore, sought to overcome the implications of the origin of the universe from the big bang (really the original singularity) and the existence of a fine-tuned universe that was impossibly improbable for fr that beginning.  It looks as if it the universe is designed to produce human life. The idea of all this being by chance is no longer credible.  

 

What can the atheists do to counter the overwhelming implication?  They posit a multi-universe, which is multiple universes also called landscape theory.  The totality of the universes, the landscape, is a chance system that is everlasting and throws up every possibility so that even the most impossible will exist.  The theory is total mythology that shows that the atheists are running an alarm from the idea that God might exist. Of course, no one can show form any set of ideas on a material substratum for any universe how time, plus change, plus matter would produce human beings.  The problem is no way solved by the landscape. Berlinski then shows that human life, the mind, values, and even the biology can in no way be explained by physical material concepts.  And indeed, the cell itself cannot be explained by any evolutionary hypothesis. As I noted in my apologetics text, The Biblical World View,  naturalistic evolution is a theory that puts words into an explanatory syntax but which do not really explain at all.

 

Berlinski’s book does have a fine quality of good quips and little statements that show the absurdity of the atheists and bring a smile to one’s face.  

 

Moralityphobia

Recently the facilities in several British cities canceled evangelistic meetings with Franklin Graham because his statements against homosexual practice showed him to be a homophobe.  I have written about this before, but one of the schemes of the left is to change the meaning of words and then to intimidate on the basis of these incendiary words and sentences. In this regard let us analyze the word homophobia or LBBTQ phobia.  The meaning of phobia is often an irrational fear. So aquaphobia is a fear of water, or there is claustrophobia, a fear of closed small spaces, or fear of spiders, heights and even crossing bridges over water. So how might believers in the Bible be homophobes?

 

  1. Do they fear that homosexuals will convince them to become homosexuals?
  2. Do they fear that homosexuals will attack and rape them?
  3. Do they fear that homosexuals will sexually abuse their children?  Some do fear this. There are both heterosexual and homosexual pedofiles. 
  4. Do they fear homosexuals will come after them and kill them?
  5. Do they fear that the agenda will hurt the institutions of marriage and family and damage many people?  Yes, I think some fear that. 

 

The term is really an incoherent misnomer.   Those who use cannot claim that believers want to take away their civil rights for work, services, and accommodations. That time is long past. Maybe the real issue is not that we fear homosexuals but that believes fear for homosexuals and the LGBTQ community, including fearing for them on the dangers of  God’s judgment, the tragic results of sex-change surgery and hormonal therapy (well documented).  We especially fear for children who are being raised with hormones and sex change encouragement. 

 

Isn’t it really that the homosexuals and LGBTQ community fear traditional morality and communities that promote it and any idea of the judgment of God for sexual aberrations?  But we have so far lost the language battle becasue the word homophobia has been given great social power.  I propose that believers fight back and use the term morality-phobia for those in our society who fear and hate those who promote traditional morality and warn about God’s judgment. 

 

Let’s start using this term.  When accused, say, “No I am not” or  “No we are not?” You are the one with a phobia, morality-phobia.  Maybe in the back of their mind, they know it is wrong and they fear the judgment of God.  They don’t want to be reminded. 

The Superbowl, the Sexual Culture and the #MeToo movement

A contingent of men and one woman gathered in Jerusalem to watch the Superbowl on Monday Morning Israel time.  We make a pledge that all who come to watch with us, do not look at the score and be with us for the suspense. As the time difference in Miami is 7 hours later, we would have to be up most of the night to see it live.  We had a lovely large screen to see it together. We had a wonderful time and saw a wonderful game. We keep a home in Kansas City so I was pleased with the results. 

 

We also saw some of the advertisements for the half time show and decided that we would completely skip it.  So the game resumed. Then we saw the responses on the internet that parents were upset with the sexual display, pole dancing, and scant dress.  But what did we expect? This has been going on for years. Then Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson and the wardrobe malfunction. Some think it was intentional.  There has been much sexuality and sexuality attracts an audience. It was so sad that our children are being taught sexuality in this way.  

 

One puzzlement is how this fits the #MeToo movement.  This movement stands against the sexual harassment of women.  While the sensual culture is not an excuse for men, the sexual messages do create a culture where men are more likely to be abusive.  Studies on the influence of pornography show this to be the case as well. Why don’t women stand against their being portrayed as sexual objects?  The culture is now self-contradictory. It is so sad to see sexuality debased, demeaning women, and robbing us of the great gift of love and sexual fidelity in marriage.  We maintain a high view and value for human sexuality.  

 

We ask the question of how we can ever see a reversal in the culture, leftist in political orientation for the young and hedonistic as a right for everyone.  I recommend the great book on this by the late jurist Robert Bork, Slouching Toward Gomorrah.  I believe in our responsibility to influence society.  However, it is difficult to see how this will happen in the long haul without a massive revival and an evangelistic explosion followed by a discipleship that does teach the importance of our culture formation roles.  We pray for that revival. The destruction and suffering in our culture is a terrible thing.