Sunday, May 16, 2010
I have a fear about sharing the Gospel. There, I've said it and admitted it! Five years ago I wouldn't have done that :)
No really though--let's get serious. I know I am not the only Christian with this fear, yet it runs so strangely with me to not attack this (perhaps lazy?) fear/dislike of not wanting to get caught up in people's problems and conflicts. I usually like to confront my petty fears and go directly against them in order to counter them--that is why I took public speaking!! *gulp* But I must admit that in this area I have made little progress, always pushing it to the back of my mind. Sure I try and be a light wherever I go etc, but sharing the Gospel with the person next to me on the plane, or with the cashier, or whoever I come in contact with, has never been a natural thing for me, and honestly my heart beats quickly whenever I even consider it. But I have done little about it, allowing the business of changing my fear to be pushed back and back by life.
Well, I had a thought today. I am definitely not accepting it as THE ONLY truth. Let me say that I do know it's within every Christian's duty to be ready to answer for the hope that is within him or her, and I am not trying to say here that this is no longer necessary, by any means.
Today the pastor spoke on Joseph and his resistance to Potipher's wife in Egypt. And something got my attention: that Joseph, and now that I think about it, many if not all of the the historical Biblical characters, never actually come out in the stories and share the Gospel straight up with whoever the authority or peer is in their life. I do believe Paul does with the Romans who are holding him captive, and again I am by no means saying that sharing the Gospel straight up with people is WRONG. I guess God is showing me perhaps, that sharing the Gospel can be done more ways than out and out words and sentences. It can be a way of life!
Sure I knew this; but to actually realize fully that many of the famous stories between godly men and women, and pagans don't involve an actual sharing of the Gospel (at least, not that we hear in the story), but an actual LIVING OUT of the Gospel, which is SO EFFECTIVE. For example, the Joseph story--Potipher knows that God is with Joseph. The same for Daniel, and I am sure there are others I just can't think of right now :) These men simply lived out their faith unashemedly. We never hear them share the "four spiritual laws" (sorry, couldn't resist *smile) or the steps to salvation. We, along with the authorities and peers of their day, simply see something different and incredible, and credit it to God.
I hope my rambling has made some sort of sense! Let me say in closing that all in all I was encouraged today that while my heart and mind are perhaps too weak and afraid of man to engage every stranger that comes my way, that by my dress, attitude, character, and way of living, I can express something that may make people think to themselves, as they thought of Daniel and Joseph: God is with this man (in my case woman). If I can dare to put myself on the same level of these incredible men, this is my hope and prayer!
Oh may that truth be so! "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it..."
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Six months old and he can tell good from evil
The new research contradicts the theories of Freud and others that humans begin with a moral 'blank slate'
May 9, 2010
The new research contradicts the theories of Freud and others that humans begin with a moral 'blank slate'
Mothers and fathers might think they have few higher duties than teaching a sense of right and wrong to their children. But research suggests that their offspring may already be a step ahead of them.
Scientists have discovered that babies can start to make moral judgments by the age of six months and may be born with the ability to tell good from bad hard-wired into their brains.
Infants can even act as judge and jury in the nursery. Researchers who asked one-year-old babies to take away treats from a “naughty” puppet found they were sometimes also leaning over and smacking the figure on the head.
The research is being pioneered by a team of psychologists at the infant cognition centre at Yale University in Connecticut. Their findings go against the received wisdom that humans begin life with a moral “blank slate” and are shaped by their parents and social environment.
In their research, the scientists used the ability to tell helpful from unhelpful behaviour as an indication of moral judgment. In one experiment, they tested infants less than a year old playing with cuddly animals and puppets.
Babies are unable to press buttons or pull levers to show their preferences so the scientists measured the amount of time a child was gazing at one object. Typically they stare longer at things that please them.
In one test, groups of babies aged between six months and a year watched an animated film of simple geometric shapes. A red ball with eyes tries to climb a hill. At different times, a yellow square gets behind it to help push it up the hill and a green triangle forces it back down again.
The babies watched it between six and 14 times, depending on their powers of concentration. They were then asked to “choose” between the “good guy” square, and the “bad guy” triangle. In 80% of cases the infants chose the helpful character against the unhelpful one.
In a second study, a toy dog tries to open a box. One teddy bear helps him but another sits on it to stop him getting inside. After watching it at least six times, the babies were asked to choose which bear they liked. Most opted for the friendly bear.
Paul Bloom, professor of psychology who heads the study team, said the research flew in the face of psychologists such as Sigmund Freud who believed humans began life as “amoral animals” and William James who described a baby’s mental life as “one great, blooming, buzzing confusion”.
“There is a growing body of scientific evidence that supports the idea that perhaps some sense of good and evil is bred in the bone,” Bloom said.
To establish whether babies were really responding to niceness and naughtiness the scientists devised another test in which a toy cat plays with a ball while a cuddly rabbit puppet stands on either side. When the cat loses the ball, the rabbit on the right side returns it to him but if the ball rolls the other way the rabbit on the left side picks it up and runs away with it. This time, one-year-old babies were asked to take a treat away from one puppet. Most took it from the pile of the naughty rabbit, who also ended up with a smack on the head for his bad behaviour.
Kiley Hamlin, author of the team’s Infant Morality report, said: “We spend a lot of time worrying about teaching the difference between good guys and bad guys in the world but this might be something that infants come to the world with.”
However, Nadja Reissland, a behavioural psychologist at Durham University, cautioned that adult assumptions may have coloured how a child’s actions were interpreted by the researchers.
“Everything hinges on who decides what is moral,” said Reissland. “By saying pushing the ball up the hill is helpful, the researchers are making a moral judgment. The babies might just prefer to see things go up rather than down.
“In the other test, perhaps the bear closes the box to prevent the dog from getting in there because there is something dangerous inside. It is like a mother keeping children out of an area where there is something harmful.”
Reissland added that children started being socialised into knowing good from bad as soon as they were born.
Peter Willatts, a senior lecturer in psychology at Dundee University, said: “You cannot get inside the mind of the baby. You cannot ask them. You have to go on what most attracts their attention.
“We now know that in the first six months babies learn things much quicker than we thought possible. What they are born with and what they learn is difficult to divide.”
Saturday, May 8, 2010
"There Will Be No Apology"
By Tom Bevan
May 6, 2010
Those are the words of the mother of Matt Dariano, one of the five kids at Live Oak High School in the San Francisco Bay Area who were sent home for having the temerity to wear American flag tee shirts on the
"Mexican heritage day" of Cinco de Mayo.
"There will not be an apology," Mrs. Dariano told the camera crew outside the school. "Matthew is part Hispanic, OK? He's an American. So, no, there will be no apology from any Dariano."
Guess who else uttered the exact same phrase last year? James Crowley, the white Cambridge cop who arrested black Harvard professor Louis Gates, Jr. and was singled out in a nationally televised press conference by President Obama for "acting stupidly."
On July 23 of last year outside his home, a reporter told Crowley that Gates had asked for an apology from him for his handling of the incident.
"There will be no apology," Crowley replied.
After a beat, the reporter followed up: "Is this now and ever, 'no apology,?"
"Yes," Crowley replied flatly.
The fact is, Americans are increasingly fed up with the racially divisive, politically correct insanity pulsating through the country today. After years of being pressured and browbeaten by the left-wing PC police about what they can say, do, think, and wear, many Americans have had enough. And they're especially furious with being asked to apologize for things that aren't or shouldn't be in the least bit offensive.
The idea that high school kids anywhere in America would be called the principal's office - let alone that they would be asked whether they should apologize - for wearing clothes bearing the image of the United States flag, is a perfect case in point.
It's the kind of insanity that rankles the sensibilities of millions upon millions of Americans, and has them cheering when someone - whether a Cambridge cop or a Bay Area mother - stands up, refuses to back down, and says, "there will be no apology."
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Genetically modified soy linked to sterility, infant mortality
By Jeffrey Smith
April 26, 2010
"This study was just routine," said Russian biologist Alexey V. Surov, in what could end up as the understatement of this century. Surov and his colleagues set out to discover if Monsanto's genetically modified (GM) soy, grown on 91% of US soybean fields, leads to problems in growth or reproduction. What he discovered may uproot a multi-billion dollar industry.
After feeding hamsters for two years over three generations, those on the GM diet, and especially the group on the maximum GM soy diet, showed devastating results. By the third generation, most GM soy-fed hamsters lost the ability to have babies. They also suffered slower growth, and a high mortality rate among the pups.
And if this isn't shocking enough, some in the third generation even had hair growing inside their mouths - a phenomenon rarely seen, but apparently more prevalent among hamsters eating GM soy.
The study, jointly conducted by Surov's Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the National Association for Gene Security, is expected to be published in three months (July 2010) --so the technical details will have to wait. But Surov sketched out the basic set up for me in an email.
He used Campbell hamsters, with a fast reproduction rate, divided into 4 groups. All were fed a normal diet, but one was without any soy, another had non-GM soy, a third used GM soy, and a fourth contained higher amounts of GM soy. They used 5 pairs of hamsters per group, each of which produced 7-8 litters, totally 140 animals.
Surov told The Voice of Russia,
"Originally, everything went smoothly. However, we noticed quite a serious effect when we selected new pairs from their cubs and continued to feed them as before. These pairs' growth rate was slower and reached their sexual maturity slowly."
He selected new pairs from each group, which generated another 39 litters. There were 52 pups born to the control group and 78 to the non-GM soy group. In the GM soy group, however, only 40 pups were born. And of these, 25% died. This was a fivefold higher death rate than the 5% seen among the controls. Of the hamsters that ate high GM soy content, only a single female hamster gave birth. She had 16 pups; about 20% died.
Surov said "The low numbers in F2 [third generation] showed that many animals were sterile."
The published paper will also include measurements of organ size for the third generation animals, including testes, spleen, uterus, etc. And if the team can raise sufficient funds, they will also analyze hormone levels in collected blood samples.
Hair Growing in the Mouth
Earlier this year, Surov co-authored a paper in Doklady Biological Sciences showing that in rare instances, hair grows inside recessed pouches in the mouths of hamsters.
"Some of these pouches contained single hairs; others, thick bundles of colorless or pigmented hairs reaching as high as the chewing surface of the teeth. Sometimes, the tooth row was surrounded with a regular brush of hair bundles on both sides. The hairs grew vertically and had sharp ends, often covered with lumps of a mucous."
(The photos of these hair bundles are truly disgusting. Trust me, or look for yourself.)
At the conclusion of the study, the authors surmise that such an astounding defect may be due to the diet of hamsters raised in the laboratory. They write, "This pathology may be exacerbated by elements of the food that are absent in natural food, such as genetically modified (GM) ingredients (GM soybean or maize meal) or contaminants (pesticides, mycotoxins, heavy metals, etc.)." Indeed, the number of hairy mouthed hamsters was much higher among the third generation of GM soy fed animals than anywhere Surov had seen before.
Preliminary, but Ominous
Surov warns against jumping to early conclusions. He said, "It is quite possible that the GMO does not cause these effects by itself." Surov wants to make the analysis of the feed components a priority, to discover just what is causing the effect and how.
In addition to the GMOs, it could be contaminants, he said, or higher herbicide residues, such as Roundup. There is in fact much higher levels of Roundup on these beans; they're called "Roundup Ready." Bacterial genes are forced into their DNA so that the plants can tolerate Monsanto's Roundup herbicide. Therefore, GM soy always carries the double threat of higher herbicide content, couple with any side effects of genetic engineering.
Years of Reproductive Disorders from GMO-Feed
Surov's hamsters are just the latest animals to suffer from reproductive disorders after consuming GMOs. In 2005, Irina Ermakova, also with the Russian National Academy of Sciences, reported that more than half the babies from mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks. This was also five times higher than the 10% death rate of the non-GMO soy group. The babies in the GM group were also smaller (see photo) and could not
In a telling coincidence, after Ermakova's feeding trials, her laboratory started feeding all the rats in the facility a commercial rat chow using GM soy. Within two months, the infant mortality facility-wide reached 55%.
When Ermakova fed male rats GM soy, their testicles changed from the normal pink to dark blue! Italian scientists similarly found changes in mice testes (PDF), including damaged young sperm cells. Furthermore, the DNA of embryos from parent mice fed GM soy functioned differently.
An Austrian government study published in November 2008 showed that the more GM corn was fed to mice, the fewer the babies they had (PDF), and the smaller the babies were.
Central Iowa Farmer Jerry Rosman also had trouble with pigs and cows becoming sterile. Some of his pigs even had false pregnancies or gave birth to bags of water. After months of investigations and testing, he finally traced the problem to GM corn feed. Every time a newspaper, magazine, or TV show reported Jerry's problems, he would receive calls from more farmers complaining of livestock sterility on their farm, linked to GM corn.
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine accidentally discovered that rats raised on corncob bedding "neither breed nor exhibit reproductive behavior." Tests on the corn material revealed two compounds that stopped the sexual cycle in females "at concentrations approximately two-hundredfold lower than classical phytoestrogens." One compound also curtailed male sexual behavior and both substances contributed to the growth of breast and prostate cancer cell cultures. Researchers found that the amount of the substances varied with GM corn varieties. The crushed corncob used at Baylor was likely shipped from central Iowa, near the farm of Jerry Rosman and others complaining of sterile livestock.
In Haryana, India, a team of investigating veterinarians report that buffalo consuming GM cottonseed suffer from infertility, as well as frequent abortions, premature deliveries, and prolapsed uteruses. Many adult and young buffalo have also died mysteriously.
Denial, Attack and Canceled Follow-up
Scientists who discover adverse findings from GMOs are regularly attacked, ridiculed, denied funding, and even fired. When Ermakova reported the high infant mortality among GM soy fed offspring, for example, she appealed to the scientific community to repeat and verify her preliminary results. She also sought additional funds to analyze preserved organs. Instead, she was attacked and vilified. Samples were stolen from her lab, papers were burnt on her desk, and she said that her boss, under pressure from his boss, told her to stop doing any more GMO research. No one has yet repeated Ermakova's simple, inexpensive studies.
In an attempt to offer her sympathy, one of her colleagues suggested that maybe the GM soy will solve the over population problem!
Surov reports that so far, he has not been under any pressure.
Opting Out of the Massive GMO Feeding Experiment
Without detailed tests, no one can pinpoint exactly what is causing the reproductive travesties in Russian hamsters and rats, Italian and Austrian mice, and livestock in India and America. And we can only speculate about the relationship between the introduction of genetically modified foods in 1996, and the corresponding upsurge in low birth weight babies, infertility, and other problems among the US population. But many scientists, physicians, and concerned citizens don't think that the public should remain the lab animals for the biotech industry's massive uncontrolled experiment.
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