Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Harry Shepherd Prophecy 12

The twelfth installment of my grandfather Shepherd's prophecy book, copied here without comment, although I find it fascinating that my grandfather was drawing on the ASV. I wonder if it was in one of his sources, or perhaps he used it when he was a student at Wabash College in the first decade of the 1900s.
The Time of the Russian Invasion
When will Russia march into the Middle East? In my opinion this question cannot be specifically and dogmatically answered. We may, however, offer some preferential ideas on this point. I do not think this invasion is at the same time as Armageddon but before because at the latter all nations gather against Jerusalem. In this Russia with certain, well-specified allies will invade the land. Also here Russia is the commander Ezekiel 38:7 (American Standard Version 1901, marginal reading). At Armageddon the antichrist is the commander. Then the means of divine destruction in Ezekiel 38:19-23 varies from Armageddon in Revelation 16:18-21 in brother's sword against brother in the invading forces, and in the use of blood and an overflowing rain with fire and brimstone. Armageddon has the earth's greatest earthquake with fleeting islands and obliterated mountains (Revelation 16:18 and 20). In Ezekiel 39 the sacrifice following Russia's destruction is for fowls and beasts whereas the supper after Armageddon is for fowls only. (Revelation 19:17). In Daniel 9:27 we have mentioned the length of the Tribulation, the Jewish covenant of one week or seven years with the antichrist. Jeremiah chapter 30:7 calls this period or at least the last half of it the Time of Jacob's Trouble. In my opinion the Russian hordes will enter Palestine either in the first part of this period or three and a half years before it begins. Ezekiel 39:9 tells us that, after the Russian slaughter, the Israeli will be making (A.S.V.) fires of the military spoils for seven years. As the antichrist will break his covenant with the Jews in the midst of the Tribulation week and launch the worst campaign of persecution and destruction which Israel has ever undergone, they certainly could not be burning the spoils of the Russian invasion in the last three and one half years of this time of Jacob's Trouble. Hence they will have to do this seven years burning during the first three and one half years of the Tribulation plus three and a half years in the Millennium or during three and a half years before the Tribulation plus the first three and a half years of the Tribulation. The first alternative would have the problem of separating the spoil of this invasion from the spoils from the awful battle of Armageddon. If the second alternative is correct the time of Russia's march would seem to be near and certain in the lives of people now alive.

Let us pause briefly to give an example on the positive side of this verification of Promise Four. We, with our finite limitations, are not able to roll back the undercover curtain which conceals some things in the affairs of men. But when the affairs of men and nations shall have been unrolled at the last great assize (Revelation 20:11-15) of the human family, I dare say we shall find that the forward march, success, fame, prosperity and greatness of our nation will have stemmed in considerable measure from the positive phase of this Fourth Promise to Abraham because we have blessed his descendants in giving them equal rights and privileges with all other nationalities and with our native born.

God's Purpose And Intent For The Tribulation
In order to understand better the Fourth Promise and its connection with the antichrist and Armageddon it will be well to give consideration to the why, purpose and intent for the Tribulation. God's main thought in fulfilling His promises to Abraham is the salvation of Israel and of the Gentiles as well. As the Jews as a whole will never come back to God in a spiritual return and believe on Jesus Christ as their Messiah, they will have to be driven into a corner to bring such spiritual recovery of them that will believe. One why then for the Tribulation will be to drive Israel into this corner. Another reason is found in the Scripture truth that the righteous shall inherit the earth. It is an evident fact that not many of the righteous are inheriting much of this earth now. Then with Satan and his crowd in almost complete control of this world and with it characteristic of them that they will refuse to give up such control without a struggle, it will be necessary for God to use the Tribulation to break their grip upon the earth and thrust them out in order for His Son and His saints to inherit the earth in the Millennium. Hence the why, purpose and intent of the Tribulation is that God in carrying out His Four promises to Abraham may bring Israel and the Gentiles to submission and salvation, thrust the devil and his crowd out of earth's possessions and control and turn this world over to His Son, Jesus Christ, and His redeemed ones for their inheritance in the Millennium. Hallelujah! Another why is God's retributive justice and judgment against sin.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sermon Starters: God is on His Holy Throne

Title: God is on His Holy Throne
I preached tonight at the Sunday evening SAGE service at College Wesleyan Church. The title is taken from Habakkuk 2:20.

Text: Habakkuk 1:2-4, 5-7, 12-13; 2:1, 2-4, 20

I. Introduction
Habakkuk was written at a sad time in the history of Israel, perhaps the last decade of the 600s BC. Habakkuk looks around him and sees all the wickedness in Judah. The northern kingdom is gone, destroyed by the Assyrians in the 700s. He cries out to God, "How long, O LORD?"

God's answer is not what he had in mind. Don't worry, God says. I'm bringing the Babylonians to take care of the unrighteousness in Judah. Let's just say it's not what Habakkuk had in mind.

II. Body of the Sermon
Point 1: It's OK to cry out to God.
  • We have all sorts of reasons to cry out to God. Why am I suffering? Why is someone I love suffering? Why did my spouse cheat on me or leave me? Why am I alone? Who do we have these two candidates for president?
  • The Scriptures repeatedly model the righteous crying out asking God why (e.g., Ps. 2:1-2; 13:1-2; 79:4-6; Zech. 1:12--and that's not the half of them)
  • They always end in faith or thanksgiving.
  • The psalms model praising, thanking, lamenting, even anger towards enemies. But don't stay angry forever, and make sure your questioning always ends in faith.
  • We need to learn to live without knowing what God is precisely doing. We know it will all work for eternal good, although sometimes he lets us be destroyed by the Babylonians now.
Point 2: God's solutions aren't always the ones we'd prefer.
  • I know I'd rather have God remove the ungodly leaders of Judah, not destroy the whole place by the Babylonians. But this was apparently God's plan in this case.
  • When I look at the presidential race right now, I think of bringing the Babylonians. I don't know many people who are actually enthused about either candidate.
  • Important to take an eternal perspective. God is in his holy temple. God is still in control. God is still on the throne.
  • We have to believe that God has his reasons for letting bad things happen, for letting the Babylonians come and destroy our world.
  • But what is the alternative--everything is meaningless if there is no God. Other pictures of God don't give us something better.
  • We need to look at things through an eternal lens.
Point 3: The just will live in faithfulness.
  • This is what God tells Habakkuk in 2:4.
  • God took this verse in another true direction with Paul, justification by faith.
  • Here it is about faithfulness--we continue on in faith, even though we don't know what God's doing.
  • One step at a time.
  • God is at work in us, both to will and to do his good pleasure (Phil. 2:12-13).
  • You will hear a voice behind you if you deviate off the path God has for us (Isa. 30:21)
  • Do all to the glory of God and act with love toward your neighbor and enemy.
III. Conclusion
God is on his throne, though we don't often know what he's doing. In the meantime, the righteous will live in faithfulness.

The Nine Rings of Hell

In case you were wondering, here's what Dante said (good page here):

1. Limbo
Unbaptized babies and pagans who never had a chance

2. Lust
People driven by their fleshly desires in life

3. Gluttony
People who overindulged in food and drink

4. Greed
Those who hoarded possessions and those who overspend

5. Anger
The wrathful

6. Heresy
Those who had beliefs that contradicted those of the church

7. Violence
Murderers, suicides, blasphemers and rapists of the same sex

8. Liars
Panderers and seducers, flatterers, those who buy church offices, sorcerers and false prophets, corrupt politicians, hypocrites, evil counselors, the divisive, perjurers, [and surrogates for presidential candidates... just kidding]

9. Treachery
Those who betrayed their closest friends and family, including Judas

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Moral Value of Pain

I thought it might be helpful to set the various views of pain as I understand them next to each other. Where have I gone wrong in my analysis of the varying positions? Have I missed anything?

1. The Naturalist Perspective
This perspective does not believe in God or a human soul, so it would make us merely highly evolved animals with no eternal destiny. From this perspective, therefore, pain is simply painful. It has no real significance other than the fact that it hurts us and those who empathetically hurt with us. Pain thus presents no moral problem.

2. The Buddhist View
In this view, pain is part of the nature of things. We are nothing, so our pain is nothing. In fact, pain becomes good because it moves us toward nirvana. We experience it as our karma from our past actions, perhaps in past lives or existences. It is thus just. In this view, pain is good, part of the justice of the universe and something that moves us toward good.

3. The Hyper-Calvinist and Muslim View
Since in these views God directly dictates everything that happens in the universe, pain simply becomes God's will. It is good because God says so. God in fact has dictated it, or it is the will of Allah. Pain thus is good because God wills it.

4. The Augustinian/Arminian View
God did not create the world with pain. God created the world with the possibility of pain. Pain is a consequence of Adam's sin. But a world where we are free to choose good or evil is a better world than one in which there is no evil or pain. God sometimes intervenes to stop pain, but sometimes he does not intervene because there is a greater good in play. Pain thus not God's ideal for any specific situation, but it is good in the light of his overall design.

5. The Theistic Creationist View
Those who believe that God used an evolutionary process to create humanity must in some way assume that pain is part of God's plan for the creation. Pain therefore must not be intrinsically bad. Might they then assume that part of God's plan is/was to remove pain for homo sapiens forever? If they take Adam literally, might they blame him for messing up the removal of pain by keeping humanity from the tree of life? If they take him as symbolic, might Jesus' resurrection point to an as yet future human destiny without pain? Irenaeus' theodicy might fit in here as well--pain and suffering provides us with a context in which we can either grow or diminish in character. In any case, this view would not necessarily view pain as bad.

6. The Open View
Because God has created the world with freedom--or perhaps because of his nature--this view might assert that God cannot stop pain without ending human freedom. Or an extreme version might say that he simply cannot stop evil because his nature is love, and love can only persuade, not force. Maybe it makes us feel good to conclude that pain is always bad and that God is always against it, but this God is not all powerful. He's more like a very loving Zeus. This is the only view, it seems to me, where pain is actually bad.

7. Warning to the "Abandon the Faith" View
At this point, someone might be tempted to throw away faith. What kind of God allows pain? But once you throw away God, you're back at the naturalist view (or perhaps the Buddhist view, which requires just as much faith as the Christian view). If there is no God, then pain is completely meaningless, other than the fact that it hurts. We are back where we began. Pain is not bad and you can't blame God because you've thrown him away.

In conclusion, pain is not morally problematic unless you don't believe God is omnipotent. And in that case, you have bigger problems than the problem of pain.

Is this logic sound? Have I missed something? Thoughts?

5.4 Internal Resistance

This is the fourth week of Module 5 in the Navy Basic Electricity and Electronics series. This module is on the relationships between current, voltage, and resistance. The first three sections were:

5.1 Voltage, Resistance, and Current
5.2 Ohm's Law Formula
5.3 Power

1. This week is on the internal resistance of a source such as a battery. Let's say that you were to put a voltmeter across a battery in an open circuit and it were to read 12 volts, the "no-load" voltage. Then lets say you close the circuit and the voltmeter drops to 11 volts. This suggests that your battery has an internal resistance that is zapping some of the force.

2. To measure the internal resistance (Ri) of a source:
  • Measure the no-load voltage.
  • Energize the circuit and then measure the voltage across the source again.
  • Subtract the difference (internal resistance decreases the voltage in the circuit).
  • Measure the current in the circuit.
  • Use R=E/I to determine the internal resistance of the source.
3. Hopefully, the internal resistance of your source is small enough to be negligible.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Friday Gen Eds MS1: Math and Science

So I've been doing a series on Wednesdays called, "General Education in a Nutshell." I've already finished a series of twelve posts on philosophy. I'm about half-way through a series on world history. Now for the last few weeks on Friday I've been processing the content of math, chemistry, physics, and biology, in preparation for cooking them together for this series.
1. As part of my philosophy series, I did a post on the philosophy of science. That post suggested that science was a language we used to describe and predict how the world works and would behave next time, but that it isn't actually language of how the world actually is. Our formulas, our language describes things that are real, but our language is like finely tuned myths that describe mysteries.

Science also proceeds by way of paradigms that, thus far, change over time. A paradigm is a way of looking at a particular area of knowledge, a particular way of thinking about a certain set of data, a particular set of glasses. So prior to Copernicus, the predominant astronomical paradigm saw the earth as the center of the universe, with sun, moon, and planets circling around it. Prior to Einstein, it was generally thought that space and time had fixed measures.

So paradigm shifts take place when the anomalies of "normal science" prompt new theories that, over time, come to be adopted as the new normal science.

2. The scientific method, therefore, is not exactly about reality itself. It is not exactly about what is absolutely true. It is about either confirming the usefulness of existing paradigms, about refining them, or perhaps about prompting a paradigm shift that will more precisely describe and predict the world.

We look at the data, we form hypotheses, we test them. When our hypotheses repeatedly seem to explain the data and correctly predict the results we will get the next time we test, we eventually call them theories. From the 1600s to the 1800s, discoveries were sometimes called "laws"--Newton's three laws of motion, the law of universal gravitation. We haven't used language of laws for a long time now.

3. So what is math? Some math seems to mirror reality in a much closer way than any scientific theory. I have ten fingers, so base 10 makes sense to me. But is base 10 really the most fundamental base of reality? Other numbers seem more intrinsic to the universe, like the number known as "e," which seems to pop up all over the place. [1]

Repeatedly, either mathematicians have realized possibilities that were later "discovered," or math was invented to explain what was already "discovered." The square root of negative 1, "i" is a case in point. Recognized in the 1700s, this curiosity would become essential in the quantum mechanics of the twentieth century. Carl Gauss and others explored the possibility of a non-Euclidean geometry in the early 1800s, but Einstein would apply it to general relativity in 1915.

So if the theories of science are far more precise myths to express reality than the stories of the arts and humanities, then numbers are the characters in those myths.

Of course math is much more than quantities. It is more than geometries. It is also a number of tools to help get at quantities and geometries.

5. Over the next twenty weeks, I hope to survey the main fields of math and science. I'm not exactly doing "what a college student should know," but this may not be too far off that idea.
  • The Basic Types of Numbers
  • The Atom and Quantum Physics
  • The Periodic Table
  • Molecules and Ions
  • Chemical Reactions
  • The Basic Tools of Algebra
  • Thermodynamics
  • Basic Geometry and Trigonometry
  • The Physics of Motion
  • Basic Calculus
  • The Forces of Motion
  • Electromagnetism
  • Genetics and Evolution
  • Cells and Microbiology
  • Botany
  • Zoology
  • Geology
  • Astronomy 
  • Relativity
  • Basic Probability and Statistics
[1] e is 2.7182818284590452353602874713..., an irrational number that goes on infinitely.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Tides of Culture (a poem)

The tides of culture have changed. 
They have changed almost imperceptibly; 
It has seemed to happen overnight. 
The ground we stand on is different, 
But we did not realize it because we did not move. 
We were the leaders, we thought,
And then we weren't.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Gen Eds H6a: Reformation and Scientific Revolution

Finally I can move on to the sixth period in my World History series: "Renaissance and Reformation." I'll need to do it in two parts though.

These are posts in the World History part of my "General Education in a Nutshell" series. This series involves ten subjects you might study in a general education or "liberal arts" core at a university or college. The first topic in the overall series was philosophy. So far in the world history section:
The Scientific Revolution
1. The turn to reason in the Enlightenment no doubt was in part facilitated by the scientific revolution of the 1600s. The scientific revolution was based on one very crucial paradigm shift, namely, the idea that there is a natural realm and there is a supernatural realm. The natural realm behaves according to laws of cause and effect which we humans can discover.

This may seem to us to be the biblical view or the historically Christian view, but it is not. Prior to the late Middle Ages, the universe was seen more or less as a great "chain of being" from the basic elements all the way up to God. Events that took place were not seen as the product of natural cause and effect but rather the action of spiritual agents. As an example, Martin Luther committed himself to become a monk in a thunderstorm, which he saw as God trying to get hold of him.

The division between natural and supernatural thus is new in history. God is still believed to exist. He is still creator. But now he creates the world something like a machine. He creates it. He winds it up. He lets it run on its own. Is he even necessary to be present now?

This is the origin of Deism, the perspective that believes God created the world but is no longer involved. He placed natural laws into the world that run it now on its own. Some of the great scientists of the scientific revolution were Deists of this sort, like Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727).

Even those of us who are theists, though, who believe God is still involved in the world, usually believe that there are natural laws that we can discover in the world. We think of thunderstorms as natural events rather than spiritual ones... at least most of the time. We think of God's intervention as "miracles," contravenings of the natural order of cause and effect. [1]

Many such laws were discovered. Newton developed his three laws of motion. He developed his theory of universal gravitation. He and Leibniz independently invented calculus to analyze change. The discoveries and inventions haven't stopped coming ever since.

We often refer to Francis Bacon (1561-1626) as the father of the scientific method. We make observations. We develop a hypothesis. We gather more data and test the hypothesis. After we have tested the hypothesis long enough and had results that support the hypothesis, we upgrade it to a theory.

This is an inductive method. It assumes that we can induce truths about the world through discovery. It contrasts with the more deductive approach of the Middle Ages, where theological assumptions were more the starting point and truths deduced from these a priori starting points. It is part and parcel of the modern age, even if it has received considerable push back at times in the last century.

2. There are different theories about the origins of modernism. Some would point back to Thomas Aquinas (1225-74), through whom the influence of the ancient Greek Aristotle (384-22BC) came to impact late medieval Christianity. Aristotle of course was more inductive in his approach to truth (as opposed to Plato, who prevailed in Christian thought for the first millennium). It is quite possible that the dominance of Aquinas in the late middle ages set a trajectory toward a scientific age.

Also suggested is nominalism, which came to the fore in the 1300s. Nominalism largely rejected the idea of universals. Rather than there being universal truths from which all other truths are deduced--and even rather than us inducing universal truths--nominalists see only individual truths and facts that stand on their own. For the nominalist, truths are individual and largely disconnected.

Reformation and Counter-Reformation
3. It is often suggested that nominalism played a role in Martin Luther's theology. We stand as individuals before God, not as a group. Being a Roman Catholic does not save you. Only individuals who have faith in God will be saved. So individualism is a central feature of the modern age. Cultures prior to the Reformation, indeed most cultures in most places and times have been "collectivist" rather than individualistic. Indeed, it would seem to be default human nature.

Luther (1483-1546) of course did not plan to fracture the Roman Catholic Church into the tens of thousands of new denominations we have today. Luther was rather ticked at the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church, which he had witnessed first hand on a trip to Rome in 1511. He was not the first. John Wycliffe (1320-84) had similarly protested corruption a little over a hundred years before.

In fact, the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church in the late Middle Ages had led Wycliffe and others to rediscover Augustine's (354-430) doctrine of predestination, the idea that God had chosen some to be saved, while all others will remain damned by default. This idea helped Wycliffe make sense of the fact that some in the church seemed to truly be Christians while many others--including Popes and other church leaders--did not.

4. Luther's own story set the stage for the crucial moment in history. He was someone who desperately wanted to be morally perfect, but couldn't manage it. When he realized that Romans 1:16-17 could be interpreted a different way, he felt an immense release. We are made right with God by our faith in Christ rather than by doing good works.

The sale of years off of purgatory was particularly angering to him. In it he saw Rome raising money for its buildings so that it could bask in opulence and greed. The traveling "salesman" Johann Tetzel in 1516 was the last straw. Luther would object to purgatory as an unbiblical idea of a piece with salvation by works. If we are saved by grace, then we do not have to "work off" our sins in purgatory.

Also gone then were the books of the Apocrypha that Jerome (347-420) had called "deuterocanonical," a "second canon." One of these books in particular, 2 Maccabees, gave a slim basis for purgatory, which Luther could not stand. This is why the Roman Catholic Old Testament has at least seven more books than the "Protestant" Old Testament. Luther completely took them out of his Bible and, in response, the Roman Catholic Church upgraded them and affirmed their full inclusion at the Council of Trent in 1545.

On October 31, 1517, Luther posted 95 debate points or "theses" on the door of the cathedral at Wittenberg, the city where he taught. Little did he know that it would spark a revolution. He would be put on trial. He would be hidden and protected for a year--many individuals saw an opportunity to break free of the power of the church. During that year, he would translate the Bible into German.

The rest is history.

5. Once one person had pulled away from the Roman Catholic Church, using the idea of the interpretation of the Bible as the basis, it was probably a forgone conclusion that this "protest" would be unending. Words are susceptible to multiple interpretations, and so we have seen come into play what Paul Tillich called, the "Protestant Principle": "Protestant" churches are almost destined to split over and over again in an endless cycle of differing interpretations. Protestant and Orthodox churches (which split in 1054) have unity because the institution is the primary organizing principle rather than a text.

There was perhaps a small chance that the separating group would remain a unity if Luther had been able to reach an agreement with the second great protester--Huldrych Zwingli. But Zwingli was a cantankerous man, who found no room for latitude with Luther on the nature of communion. In their 1529 "colloquy" at Marburg. Luther argued that Jesus was really present in communion, even if the bread and wine did not literally become his body and blood. For Zwingli, it was only a reminder, nothing more, and anything more was abominable. [2]

When they parted ways, the trajectory of tens of thousands of Protestant denominations was sealed.

6. Numerous other Protestant and almost Protestant groups would soon rise. There were the "anabaptists" that Zwingli opposed and drowned in the river for believing the Bible did not teach infant baptism. There was John Calvin (1509-64) in Geneva Switzerland, who picked up Wycliffe's ideas on predestination and formed one of the first comprehensive Protestant theologies.

In England, King Henry VIII (1491-1547) split with the Roman Catholic Church in order to get a divorce and the Church of England was born. Thankfully, those who set up its doctrine and practices had more noble purposes. In Scotland John Knox (1513-72) started the Presbyterian movement.

7. As is often the case, the lines between politics and religion blurred. What territories would end up Protestant in some way? What territories would remain Catholic? Spain and France remained Catholic. England, after a small regrouping under "Bloody Mary," would remain separated from Rome. The German lands at the time were divided into hundreds of territories of varying size, the "Holy Roman Empire." Each territory made up its own mind about whether to go Lutheran or remain Catholic. Austria would remain Catholic. Many of the German states in the northwest went Lutheran.

The Thirty Years War (1608-38) was fought not least partly on the grounds of religious disagreement. Which side would win? After pummeling each other for decades, it was decided that they would agree to disagree. This is wisdom that each generation needs to know before it pummels itself all over again.

8. Suffice it to say, these changes were world changing and profoundly disorienting. At the turn of the century 1600, there was an almost morbid mood. Shakespeare captures this mood in some of his plays. "All the world's a stage and all its men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts." [3] "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour across the stage and then is heard no more. Tis a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." [4]

It was into this uncertainty that Francis Bacon and the scientific revolution walked. It was this uncertainty that led Rene Descartes to ask what he could say for certain. The scientific revolution and Enlightenment would follow.

  • There is a point where it is best to agree to disagree. The amount of force it would take to win would create greater devastation than the "wrong" you are trying to eliminate, if you could ever win.
  • When a religion is only based on the interpretation of a text, that religion will multiply in endless variety.
  • The scientific revolution and modernism grew out of angst and a desire for certainty once religion had ceased to provide it.
Next Week: Renaissance and a New World

[1] In the Bible, miracles are acts of great spiritual power, greatly unusual acts that provoke wonder. But there is only normal and spectacular, not natural and supernatural.

[2] This same spirit of absolute certainty would soon lead him to drown in the river those who did not see infant baptism in the biblical text. He died soon after in battle against the Catholics.

[3] As You Like It.

[4] Macbeth.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Harry Shepherd Prophecy 11

The eleventh installment of my grandfather Shepherd's prophecy book, copied here without comment.
Promise Four: Israel The Determining Factor in the Destinies of Other Nations and of Individuals
Let us consider again the Fourth Promise to Abraham. It is: "I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee" (Genesis 12:3). Another way to state it is: That God would make Abraham and his descendants through Isaac The Determining Factor in the destinies of other nations and of individuals. The treatment the Jews received from nations and individuals will determine more or less the prosperity or downfall of them. (Matthew 25:34, 40, 45, 46) All of the other three promises have had fulfillments and suspensions on account of Israel’s disobedience and sins. But this Fourth one has had God's fulfillment from time immemorial down to our modern present and will continue to have it throughout the coming Millennium and the cycles of Eternity. One of the earliest examples is to be found in the loss of Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea after the years of Israelitish bondage in Egypt. The present ruins of the mighty Babylon whose king Nebuchadnezzar carried the children of Judah down to that city after destroying Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem testifies to this same fact. The fall of the great Roman Empire after her destruction of Jews and Jerusalem under Titus and martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul, give eloquent witness to the same truth. Coming down to modern days the dropping down of England in the rating of nations and her loss of India and the Suez Canal probably stem from this Fourth Promise because of the contributing part she had in the slaughter of the six million Jews under Hitler by the shutting the doors of Palestine to the fleeing sons of Abraham through the MacDonald White Paper restrictions* (May 1939). Another example is seen in Germany reduced by World War II from the foremost nation in Europe to a far less powerful and divided country. The Eastern part of it (and possibly the Western) will according to the Scriptures, march with Russia, in the near future, to a terrible retribution for destruction of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob whom she sent to their graves alive, and whom she consigned to the gas chambers, crematory ovens and mass graves with other suffering. We have a newspaper clipping giving the death of Mr. Hitler and his one-day-old bride, Eva Braun, in which a German war prisoner detailed to help dispose of their bodies, April 30, 1945, before the fall of Berlin which gives this information. Mr. Hitler's last wishes were that his body be cremated so that he would not be captured dead or alive by his enemies. This German and two others were to burn the bodies of Hitler and his bride. Hitler shot himself and she poisoned herself. The three men did not fully succeed in the burning. Mr. Hitler's head was not marred and it, with what was left of their bodies, fell to the Russians. Thus his terrible persecution of the Jews was a determining factor for his fate and that of his country and he was even denied his dying request for his body.
* The slaughter of six million Jews under Hitler and MacDonald White Paper restriction’s part in it, taken from “The Fall and Rise of Israel”, by Wm. L. Hull, publisher, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, page 234, used by permission.
Let us now give consideration to how this Fourth Promise has affected and will affect the destiny of Russia and her final allies. The 38th and 39th chapters of Ezekiel give the final word on the subject. First, it seems to me that Russia has, for the present, blocked God's regathering of the two million Jews from her land which should have returned with other nationalities under Isaiah's 43:6 "I will say to the North 'give up' or 'give me.'" This is, in a sense, cursing them because of more favorable living conditions in Israel which Russia is preventing them from enjoying. Then Russia is taking a murderous attitude toward the little Israeli nation. The Arab block of Nations with President Abdel Nasser of Egypt as one of the main instigators, is bent on the destruction of the State of Israel. Russia has fanned this Arab hostility and has promised extreme Arabs to obliterate Israel. This commitment is more than two years old and it would seem that she must make good on it pretty soon or lose face with the Arabs. She has armed Syria and Yemen and rearmed Egypt and Arab nations next to the Jews have clearly given the information that these munitions are to be used on Israel. Before the Middle East Crisis * in October and early November 1956, Russia had armed Egypt far beyond what the Egyptian army could use. Colonel Abdel Nasser had trained a commando army called fedayeen in Cairo, Sinai and in the Gaza Strip. They had been used by night to raid Israeli settlements, destroy homes and property, waylay houses, kill school children and others. Finally the Egyptian high commander indicated over the radio The Voice of the Arabs that Egypt was about in readiness to begin the war to destroy the Jewish State. The Israeli seeing that they would get little help from the United Nations, mobilized their forces and shortly before dark on October 29, 1956, struck at the Egyptians in the Sinai Peninsula campaign. In a week's time the sturdy, fast, Jewish troops conquered the Peninsula, destroyed or dispelled upwards of a third of the forces of Egypt, and took great amounts of military equipment. The Russians in part or the whole had furnished this vast amount of equipment. It included hundreds of tanks, heavy artillery, armored cars, one million heavy wool blankets, two million cotton sheets, 100,000 summer uniforms, an equal number of winter uniforms, a large amount of munitions which the Arabs did not understand how to use, trucks, fuel oil, gasoline, twenty-five years supply for Israel of medicines and antibiotics and other things. Evidently the Jews had captured a Russian supply and storage arsenal for future use of Russia in trying to take over the Middle East. This very successful Israeli campaign had uncovered Russian duplicity and intentions. Russia was angered greatly but prior events in Hungary probably hindered Russian retaliation. But Russia with her allies will yet march with a mighty army against the little Jewish State. Then the Lord of hosts will intervene to save His chosen people and to verify the fourth promise to Abraham. According to Ezekiel 38:18-23 (especially v. 23) and 39:7b; 13b; 17b:21 and 27 not N. A. T. O. but God, will turn Russia back and destroy five sixths of her till it will take the Israeli seven months to bury the dead (Ezekiel 39:2 and 12). By this the nations will know something about God and that He overrules in the affairs of nations.

*Some of truth about the Middle East Crisis (1956) and the Israel Sinai campaign gleaned from Wm. L. Hull’s book “Israel Key to Prophecy”, publisher, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, pages 36-37, used by permission. Some truth from other sources, including Dr. G. Frederick Owen’s book “Abraham to the Middle-East Crisis” published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, pages 384-387, used by permission.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

The Future of the Republican Party

This quote from Republican strategist Steve Schmidt was devastating today on Meet the Press:

"The presidential race is effectively over. Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the 45th president of the United States. Chuck Schumer will be the Majority Leader of the United States. And the only question that is still up in the air is how close the Democrats will come to retaking the House Majority. What this exposes though is much deeper. It goes to the Republican Party as an institution. This candidacy, the magnitude of its disgrace to the country is almost impossible I think to articulate. But it has exposed the intellectual rot in the Republican party. It has exposed on a massive level the hypocrisy of the modern day money changers in the temple like Jerry Falwell Jr. And so this party, to go forward and to represent a conservative vision for America, has great soul searching to do. And what we’ve seen in the danger of all of these candidates is over the course of the last year these candidates who have repeatedly put their party ahead of their country, denying what is so obviously clear to anybody who’s watching about his complete and total manifest unfitness for this office."

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Not Quite Friday Science: Classifying Biology

So I've taken a shot at categorizing math, chemistry, and physics. So we finish the cores with biology (I put astronomy and geology under physics).

1. What do biology majors take? Here's some of the courses:
  • botany
  • zoology
  • microbiology
  • cellular and molecular biology
  • environmental biology and ecology
  • genetics
  • evolution
  • human biology (anatomy and physiology)
  • marine biology
2. Biology textbook--I pulled one on Google books and found a table of contents roughly as follows:
  • cells
  • genetics
  • evolution
  • microbiology
  • botany
  • animal biology
  • ecology
3. My formula would not be dissimilar:

I. Genetics and Evolution
  • Molecular biology
  • Evolution needs to be processed, even from a Christian perspective.
II. Cells and Microbiology
  • single celled organisms, viruses, and cells as the basic units of life
III. Botany
  • plants
IV. Zoology
  • invertibrates
  • marine biology
  • animal life
V. Human Biology

VI. Environmental Biology and Ecology

Friday, October 07, 2016

Friday Science: Classifying Physics

So I've taken a shot at categorizing math and chemistry. Today's physics.

1. What do physics majors take?
  • I didn't really find many university catalogs very helpful.
  • So there's a first semester introductory course, typically covering Mechanics, then advanced mechanics later
  • Then there's a second semester course, perhaps covering Thermodynamics, then advanced thermodynamics later, statistical mechanics
  • Then there's a third introductory course, usually Electromagnetism, then more advanced electromagnetism later
  • Optics
  • Quantum physics, particle physics, and relativity
  • Electronics
  • Computational physics
  • Astrophysics
2. Here are the classifications of Dewey and the Library of Congress:

So the Library of Congress adds geophysics and meteorology. I suppose fluid mechanics wasn't exactly mentioned above either.

3. Then there are physics textbooks. Here are the units in one I have:
  • Mechanics
  • Waves
  • Thermodynamics
  • Electromagnetism
  • Optics
  • Modern Physics
4. OK, so here's my recombobulation, with the math cross-overs I can think of:

I. Classical Mechanics
  • Kinematics - describing motion, including rotational motion
  • Dynamics - the forces that cause motion
  • The math required to do these well includes basic algebra, trig, differential and integral calculus; there is at least some minimal treatment of vectors, radian measurement, partial differential equations
  • wave mechanics (mechanical, fluid, sound)
  • add logarithms to the math of sound waves
II. Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
  • Great deal of overlap here with those aspects of chemistry relating to changes of states.
  • zeroth, first and second laws of thermodynamics
  • natural logarithms and e pop up occasionally
  • statistical mechanics gets into summation functions and probabilistic functions
  • I suppose meteorology and geophysics go here.
III. Electromagnetism and Optics
  • Maxwell's four laws and beyond
  • Not much new mathematically, surface integrals
IV. Modern Physics
  • relativity, special and general
  • Relativity required some new math, especially non-Euclidean geometry
  • cosmic physics
  • quantum mechanics
  • Quantum mechanics involves a lot of linear algebra, including matrix algebra. It involves complex analysis, that is, extensive use of complex numbers. There is e.
V. Tools and Equipment
  • There is of course the standard and exotic equipment, including everything from particle accelerators to voltmeters to the Hubble Space telescope.
  • Computers have increasingly played a role in doing physics, to where computational physics is an important piece of the puzzle

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Gen Eds H5c: From Cromwell to the First Industrial Revolution

Watt's steam engine
I've had to split the fifth period in the history series into three posts. This is the third part of "From Crowmell to Napoleon."

These are posts in the World History part of my "General Education in a Nutshell" series. This series involves ten subjects you might study in a general education or "liberal arts" core at a university or college. The first topic in the overall series was philosophy. So far in the world history section:
The First Industrial Revolution
16. We have already mentioned how the Second Industrial Revolution of the late 1800s created immense wealth for a handful, economic slavery for many more, while also launching us into the modern economic situation. The perfection of steel made better railways and better tools possible as more and more things were invented. Railways made it possible for commerce to take place on an unprecedented scale.

The First Industrial Revolution took place in the late 1700s, and its key invention was James Watt's steam engine, a vast improvement on an earlier version. Watt's engine made the steam train possible. This caused the rise of the coal industry. It made it possible to mechanize the production of clothing. The steam engine made it possible to mechanically produce circular motion. Just imagine all the inventions involving the mechanistic production of circular motion.

Of course the coal industry brought with it all the excesses of poor working conditions and child labor in England especially. The Industrial Revolution also shifted the focus of culture from the farm to the city. Ironically, in that regard, it diminished the demand for slaves to work the land. Indeed, the slowness of the South to industrialize was part of its insistence on slavery in the lead up to the Civil War.

The Absolute Monarchs
The fact that there was more talk of absolute monarchy in the 1600s than earlier may suggest that the authority of kings as kings was more in question than ever before in history. So Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) published Leviathan in 1651, two years after King Charles I of England was executed and the year that King Charles II was forced into exile. Yet Hobbes was arguing in this book that kings had absolute authority, yielded to them by the people as part of an implied social contract.

Many historians would suggest that although there was much rhetoric of the absolute authority and divine right of kings in the "age of the absolute ruler," that in reality the kings of the 1600s and 1700s really did not rule absolutely. They were strong rulers to be sure: King Louis XIV of France (1638-1715), Frederick the Great of Prussia (1712-86), Czar Peter the Great in Russia (1672-1725), Catherine the Great of Russia too (1729-96). But those of the 1700s were also Enlightenment rulers who helped modernize their nations.

The English Civil War
One of the most shocking events of the 1600s was the execution of King Charles I of England in 1649. It is not that kings had not been killed before. Kings had repeatedly been killed by other kings or by usurpers. It was not unheard of either for kings to be killed by angry people. But the execution of Charles I was by the Long Parliament--that is, it was a legal trial with Charles held on the charge of treason.

The very notion that a king could be tried for treason was somewhat unprecedented in the history of the world. Charles I had gone for 11 years without calling a Parliament in England, but called it twice in 1640. The second one passed a rule saying that only they could dissolve themselves. They stayed for twenty years.

The key leader, almost dictator during this period was Oliver Cromwell, "Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland." In the peak of his power, he was quite oppressive toward Irish Catholics. In 1660 when the royalist supporters of the king regained power, Cromwell's dead corpse was dug up and beheaded.

The Republic of England for these eleven years however may have been inspiring to the American Revolutionaries.

Shoguns in Japan
A significant change in the way Japan was governed took place in 1600 when one of the "shogun" families seized power from the Emperor and set up a government at Edo, which is Tokyo today. The shoguns were hereditary dictators over smaller regions in Japan from about 1185.

The Emperor remained as a figurehead at Kyoto, but without much power. The Tokugawa dynasty would rule from 1603 to 1867, when new Emperor Meiji restored imperial rule. By the time of his death in 1912, Japan would emerge as a world power.

During this same period, the Qing (or Manchu) dynasty was ruling in China, from 1644-1912.

The Slave Trade
The modern association of race with color was a direct consequence of the Atlantic slave trade that began with the Portuguese in the 1500s and continued with the British, French, Spanish, and Dutch. At first, the English classified these individuals as "indentured servants" or servants for life. But as these Africans had children, slavery became permanent.

It is important to recognize that color was not a key feature of distinguishing race prior to the slave trade. In Africa, for example, individuals distinguished themselves from each other by tribe, not by color. Similarly, in Europe, people distinguished themselves by ethnicity (e.g., Italian, Prussian, French) and did not consider themselves to be of the same race. Nationality is also a fairly recent category.

However, Europeans in the 1500s did not distinguish between various African tribes. The slaves they brought across the sea were all lumped into one category, a category whose defining feature to them was color. "Black" was created as a category of race. Predictably, "white" then became a counter-category. "White," however, is not really a race any more than "black" is.

Even in the 1800s in the US, "white" was used in reference to those who were 1) not black and 2) assimilated into American culture. So immigrant groups that were still perceived as "other" were not yet considered white. Thus, the Irish were not "white" when they arrived, and so forth.

Next Week: Renaissance and Reformations

  • Inventions really can impact the course of history and culture. Scientists shouldn't be made fun of. But there are often unintended social consequences to innovation.
  • We have so much more say in our lives as the governed that most people throughout history.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Harry Shepherd Prophecy 10

The tenth installment of my grandfather Shepherd's 1960 prophecy book, copied here without comment.
From the setting up of the New Israeli Nation it was declared that the State would be open to the immigration of Jews from all countries of the world, although the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) did not pass the Law of the Return till June, 1950. The door was now open for the second great exodus of Israel. The first was out of Egypt under Moses. This we have seen since World War II which it seems to me is a fulfillment lacking the spiritual return of Israel, or a token fulfillment of the following Bible passages: Jeremiah 16:14-19, Chapter 30:18-24, Chapter 31:1-14, Ezekiel 37:1-14 and Isaiah 43:5-7. Possibly the fishers of the first passage was the Zionist agitation following World War I and the hunters may have partly been the terrible, brutal work of the Nazi under Mr. Hitler, the butcher. Chapters thirty and thirty-one were to be connected with a return in the latter days. The four points in the return of Ezekiel thirty-seven seem to have been fulfilled except point 4 which now seems to be in a process of preparation. The four points are (1) Regathering, (2) Rehabilitation, (3) Restoration (as a nation) and (4) Rebirth Spiritually. The First Prime Minister of the new Israeli State, David Ben Gurion, has said: "Ezekiel thirty-seven has been fulfilled and the nation of Israel is hearing the footsteps of the Messiah." If an unsaved Jew feels that way about the Jewish situation how should we feel? In my view Isaiah 43:5-7* is included in fulfillment in this extensive, mass exodus we have seen since Israel was recognized as a new State among the Nations—1945. In these verses God states and promises that He will regather Israel from the four points of the compass. In each case the Hebrew verb is different with a different meaning. In connection with Jews in the East God said, "I will bring thy seed." This gathering then was to be sweeping, free and without opposition. And it happened that way. Thousands came by ship or airplane from China. Others came from Malaya, Burma, India, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq. About the West God said, "and gather thee from the west." The Hebrew translated "gather" means collect, assemble, gather. Here the idea is take some but leave others. Jews have returned from Egypt, Libya, Tunia, Algeria, Morocco, Argentine, United States, Canada and other American nations but not like from the East. About five million are yet in U. S. A. In speaking of the gathering from the North God said, "I will say to the North 'give up' or 'give me.'" And they have returned to Palestine from Italy, France, Holland, Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Poland, Esthonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Rumania, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon but not from Russia where about two million Jews yet live. Should a large influx from here occur it would seem to have special prophetic significance as pointing to the end of our age. Concerning the fourth group God, according to the Hebrew, mentions a country and not a direction, and yet that country would show the direction. He says, "I will say to Teman" the Hebrew name for the land "Yemen" or "I will say to Yemen keep not back or do not restrain or hold back." God's hand is seen in this very interesting regathering for an Arab king of Yemen permitted them to go freely after a 3,000 years stay in that Arabian country, and at a time (1949) when all of the Arab nations wanted to destroy the Israeli nation. Also a sudden, spontaneous urge to leave Yemen spring up within them and from above eight hundred different localities they started to go toward Aden on the south shore of the Arabian peninsula in the country, Hadhramaut. All they knew was that there was an Israeli state with a David (David Ben-Gurion) as ruler. The urge then must have been from Jehovah. When the Jewish nation learned of their exodus it brought them from Aden by an airlift into Israel. Something over 48,000 were flown in. The urge came in 1949 and by September 1950 Yemen was without Jews. When the old men would get out of the planes they would stoop, kiss the ground and say, "Where is he?" Evidently meaning the Messiah. Certainly God was fulfilling Isaiah 43:6 and working toward his promises to Abraham.

In this great exodus of Israel, the saddest phase is to be seen in the case of 200,000 Austrian Jews who had been in the Nazi death camps and gas chambers. Their cremated bodies were brought in June 1949 in thirty jars in a large glass casket for burial in Israel like Joseph's bones in the First Great Exodus. The prophetic meaning of this great modern exodus of Jews is that God has been and still will be carrying out His Four Promises to Abraham up to the coming of the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ, Who will then take over the completion of those promises in the Millennium and probably in the New Heaven and New Earth.

There is still another angle of truth which stems from this Jewish return. It is found in Ezekiel Chapters thirty-eight and thirty-nine verse 10. Mentioned here is an economic condition among these returned Jews which throws some light on where the world is as to the coming of the Lord. This Scripture informs us that in the latter years and latter days (verses 8 and 16), after this modern exodus the returning ones would be living restfully, safely (verses 8, 11, 14) and prosperously (verse 12). They were to be prosperous enough to have spoil and a prey of silver, gold, cattle and goods. Also they were to be living in towns without walls and gates. When Ezekiel penned this 2500 years ago, the towns usually had walls " and there was no spoil or prey to take". Also there were no forests because of God's curse on the land on account of Israel's failure to obey him. Now there are no villages which have walls and the spoil and the prey are there, including the stupendous mineral wealth of the Dead Sea. As the Zionists have planted millions of trees, the forests are there or are now growing. Three years ago (1957) a man called Carl Alpert wrote of conditions in the Israeli nation and he found that the people were dwelling not only prosperously, restfully, and safely but also confidently. The Hebrew word translated "safely" may be translated also "confidently." While there was some tension and awareness of danger from Arab hostility yet there was among men on the street the feeling of confidence that the splendidly-trained and well-equipped Jewish army simply could not lose in case of an Arab war. Hence, if we have eyes to see, we behold the Jewish economic condition today following the groove Ezekiel said it would take in the latter days when Russia (Magog with leader Gog) would bring a great war machine upon the mountains of Israel. The Palestinian stage seems fully set for this foretold invasion shortly before the return of Christ the second time. This economic condition is God's modern work on the Third Promise to Abraham that he would bless him and one way to do that would be to restore productiveness to and in the land.

*Truth about the mass exodus of the Jews suggested in Isaiah 43:5-7 with meaning of Hebrew verbs obtained from "The Fall and Rise of Israel" by Wm. L. Hull, and from same author's book, "Israel, Key to Prophecy" both published by Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, pages 345-349 and (Key) pages 11, 14, 15, 18, 22, and 23.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

5.3 Power

This is the third week of Module 5 in the Navy Basic Electricity and Electronics series. This module is on the relationships between current, voltage, and resistance. The first two sections were:

5.1 Voltage, Resistance, and Current
5.2 Ohm's Law Formula

1. "Power is the rate of doing work" (66), the amount of work done by the electricity (in this case) in a given time. We might express this relationship with the formula:
P = W/T

Another way to put it is to say that electrical power is the rate of converting electrical energy into some other form of energy (e.g., heat).

2. Electrical power is measured in watts (watts having the symbol w). A 100 watt bulb burns brighter, has less resistance, and dissipates more power than a 60 watt bulb.

3. Power equals voltage times current P = EI .
  • If we substitute in E = IR from the previous lesson, we get P = I2R .
  • We can also do a little algebra and come up with P = E2/R
  • You use different versions of the relationships depending on what information is given.
*4. Read at your own risk. Another tidbit in this section is that the amount of heat produced by a resistor is the power times the amount of time or I2RT . If you think of the original formula P = W/T, this formula suggests that work relates in some way to the heat given off.

The section doesn't really explain what work is when it comes to electricity. I guess that is something for a later module. In terms of mechanical energy, work is the force times the distance. I am not remembering exactly how that plays out with electricity, but I seem to remember that the same unit of work is used, the joule.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday Science: Classifying Chemistry

A few days ago I wrote a post trying to get my head around the complex landscape of mathematics. Think of this as research for my gen ed series. When I get there, I want to recombobulate the whole thing, integrating math, physics, and chemistry somewhat.

So today I want to brainstorm the whole field of chemistry like I tried for math. I think chemistry and physics might be easier to systematize than math.

1. So once again, how is chemistry approached in university majors?
  • Inorganic chemistry 
  • Analytical chemistry
  • Organic chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Physical chemistry
  • Thermochemistry
2. The Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress classifications seem to add crystallography to this list.

3. Within one of the general chemistry books I have, the topics of introductory chemistry seem to be grouped something like the following:
  • Matters of measurement
  • The structure of atoms, properties of elements, the periodic table
  • Bonding, how molecules work, ions, intermolecular forces
  • The way chemical reactions take place (stoichiometry, aqueous interactions, gases, equilibrium)
  • Thermochemistry, chemical kinetics, nuclear chemistry, electrochemistry
  • Organic chemistry, biochemistry
4. So now it's my turn. How would I divide up chemistry?

I. Atoms and the Periodic Table
  • So you have the basic building blocks of all chemistry--atoms
  • There is the intersection between quantum physics and the structure of atoms--orbitals and the kinds of subjects especially studied in physical chemistry.
  • The Periodic Table itself has patterns--groups of elements whose properties correspond to their atomic structure (column one characteristics, noble gases in column eight, semiconductors, transition metals, the lanthanide and actinide series), electronegativity across the chart, the properties of radioactive elements, etc.
II. Molecules, Ionic Compounds, and Intermolecular Forces
  • So now we move to how elements exist in combination (not reactions yet)
  • Here we have the two primary kinds of bonding--ionic and covalent
  • There are also intermolecular forces
  • We are again to a large extent in physical chemistry territory and intersections with quantum physics.
  • Structures of molecules
  • Organic chemistry, insofar as we are talking about the structure of organic molecules
  • Biochemistry, insofar as we are talking about biological structures
III. Chemical Reactions
  • Now we're talking beyond the building blocks to how the building blocks interact and actually change--stoiciometry
  • There are reactions and interactions that happen especially in relation to aqueous environments.
  • There are reactions that happen in relation to the application or removal of heat.
  • There are reactions that happen in relation to electrochemistry.
  • There are reactions that relate especially to organic and biochemical reactions. 
  • There are reactions that involve radioactive situations.
IV. Physical Changes
  • It seems to me that there is somewhat of an overlap with physics again when it comes to matters of heat and physical (rather than chemical) changes.
  • Matters of thermodynamics and thermochemistry, gases in relation to changing pressures, volumes, and temperatures, changes of state
V. Analysis and Measurement
  • Chemistry Equipment
  • Procedures and Methods
  • Analytical chemistry (quantitative and qualitative)
  • Spectroscopy, chromatography...

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Gen Eds H5b: From Enlightenment to the American Revolution

This is the second part of "From Crowmell to Napoleon." I've split the fifth period in this history series into three posts.

These are posts in the World History part of my "General Education in a Nutshell" series. This series involves ten subjects you might study in a general education or "liberal arts" core at a university or college. The first topic in the overall series was philosophy. So far in the world history section:
The American Revolution
6. The American Revolution preceded the French Revolution by only a few years, and there is a strong possibility that the French Revolution would not have taken place if the American Revolution had not. On the one hand, the American Revolution inspired French revolutionaries, not least that the ideals of the Enlightenment need not just be ideas. They could actually be put into place in a real government, in a real Constitution.

On a more concrete level, the French monarchy expended significant resources in helping the American revolutionaries, which accentuated France's own economic crisis. Without this economic and social crisis, the French revolution would not have taken place, despite the ideas. Ideas scarcely have legs unless they have a womb in which to grow. Ideas in themselves are weak. They need a concrete catalyst to explode. Without the economic and social crisis of France, the ideas themselves would not have brought revolution.

7. The causes of the American revolution were also more economic at first than ideological. Of course we also have to consider the temperament of the kind of person likely to move to America in the first place. To move so far from one's homeland in such an age suggests most colonists were either 1) adventuresome, 2) ambitious or idealistic, 3) trying to escape something, or 4) in the family of one of the above.

Some of the earliest colonists came to America to be free to practice Christianity the way they wanted to. The Pilgrims who landed in Massachusetts in 1620 were separatists who were not particularly welcome in the Church of England. Quakers, German Baptists, Puritans, Baptists--many of these were attracted to a space where they could do religion their own way without some government clamping down on them. This spirit of independence and ideological persistence, even to the point of disobeying authority, was thus part of the early genetics of the colonies.

Of course most of them then clamped down just as much on whoever happened to disagree with their own understanding of Christianity once they got here. Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams were banished from Massachusetts for going against the Puritan grain. Williams went on to found the territory that would become Rhode Island, a place that modeled the attitude toward religion that would prevail in the United States, namely, one where there was no official form of religion set by the state.

Hutchinson was banished not only for teaching contrary to the leadership of the Puritan churches in Boston but for holding Bible studies as a women. Her charisma was such that the studies became very popular.

8. No doubt some came to America to escape authority and accountability in a less noble vein. It would be surprising indeed if, among many who came for reasons of hope, there were not also some who came with less virtuous designs. We plausibly see these elements come to the fore in the various rebellions that took place long before the Revolutionary War. Bacon's Rebellion (1676), Culpepper's Rebellion (1677), the rebellions of 1689, the Paxton Boys Uprising (1763), the War of the Regulation (1771)--all of these in one way or another reflected a frontier mix that included in its ranks arrogant leaders, rabble rousers, and violent men.

9. The colonists perhaps most attractive to us are the adventurers. If you were looking for the adventure of a lifetime--especially if you were idealistic and naive--surely coming to the New World was an attractive option. We think of Lewis and Clark, who mapped and cataloged the way to the Pacific Ocean from 1804-1806. We think of Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett.

10. If the personalities above were prone to independence and potential defiance, the distance of England made it difficult to use force to keep the common person in check. The common person was used to much more independence in America than people elsewhere, especially after the first generation to arrive. They had a taste of what independence looked like. They were not likely to acquiesce on the assumption that "This is just the way things are."

The "French and Indian War" or Seven Years War between the British and France (1756-63) not only gave the British control of Canada (from the French) and Florida (from the Spanish). It also left them with a debt that they were keen to partially recoup from the colonies themselves. The Sugar Act of 1764 hit merchants in the pocket with increased taxes on sugar, coffee, and some wines. Those taxed were not involved in the decision.

The Stamp Act of 1765 similarly put a tax on all paper documents in the colonies--newspapers, wills, deeds, even playing cards must have a stamp on it in exchange for this tax. This act of the British parliament infuriated many colonists. From this conflict more than any other came the sentiment that there should be "No taxation without representation." Those who were supposed to distribute the stamps were harassed and pressured to resign. Finally Parliament repealed the act in 1766, while making a statement that they had the right to pass any laws over the colonies that they wished.

11. But a precedent and trajectory of sorts had been set. They were set in mind to oppose any such impositions of far off bullies. They had called a convention of sorts in 1765 to make a statement to the king. The Townshend Acts of Britain were a series of acts meant to bring the colonies in line while raising revenue. One thing led to another. Boston was occupied by British soldiers. In 1770 a jittery British soldier sparked a shooting that left five colonists dead.

1773 saw the Boston Tea Party, as a group of colonists dumped a boat full of tea into the Boston harbor. The tea was yet another attempt to force the colonists to do what their far off landlord insisted they do for the benefit of the landlord's interests, with no say on the part of the tenants. After the Tea Party were the Coercive Acts in response (or "Intolerable Acts," as the colonists called them). Massachusetts self-governance was taken away.

Blood was boiling. Pamphlets were produced. Men stockpiled ammunition and guns. Meanwhile, Britain stupidly and arrogantly doubled down.

In 1774, a First Continental Congress was called with delegates from the colonies in order to petition King George III in relation to the Intolerable Acts. No response. In such case, they had already planned then for a Second Continental Congress, which convened in May of 1775. A month earlier, the colonists had drawn blood in skirmishes around Lexington and Concord ("the shot heard round the world"), on that night of Paul Revere's famous ride.

Over the course of the next year, this second Congress made last ditch attempts at reconciliation which turned to resolve to declare independence. Representation of the thirteen colonies was tightened. On July 2, 1776 they voted for independence, and they signed their Declaration on July 4.

12. The Declaration of Independence was largely the work of Thomas Jefferson. In it we hear echoes of Enlightenment thinkers like the English John Locke (1632-1704), who suggested that life, liberty, and property were inalienable rights. The pamphlet writers of the days leading up to the revolution were full of such influences. Thomas Paine (1737-1809), for example, solidified popular support for the war in 1776 with his pamphlet, Common Sense, which was full of Enlightenment influence.

The original agreement between the colonies set up a confederation by the Articles of Confederation. These allowed Congress to make treaties with foreign countries, make war and peace, make coinage, and settle disputes between the states. It could not tax or regulate commerce.

This arrangement was not sufficient. There was a call for a Constitutional Convention in 1786 which took place in 1787 to put together a Constitution. Future president James Madison had already put together a coalition. He arrived early. He secured the support of early arriving delegates. "The man with the plan is the man with the power."

Again, embodying Enlightenment ideas, Madison's proposal had a division of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial branches. This drew from French Enlightenment thinker Montesquieu (1689-1755). The Federalist Papers were put out in the days after the Constitution was proposed, 85 essays and articles by Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay urging the ratification of the Constitution by the colonies.

This took some time. Although five states passed it almost immediately, Massachusetts insisted that they would only sign if a Bill of Rights was added (something Thomas Jefferson had supported, but Alexander Hamilton had opposed). This was done after ratification, constituting the first ten amendments to the Constitution. New Hampshire was the ninth in 1788, causing the Constitution to go into effect. Rhode Island was the last of the thirteen original colonies to sign in 1790.

13. George Washington became the first US president in 1789, followed by John Adams and then Thomas Jefferson. Under Jefferson came the first major expansion. In 1803, Napoleon sold the "Louisiana Purchase" to the US to raise money for his impending war with Britain. It almost doubled the territory of the United States.

The Enlightenment
14. The Enlightenment is the name we give especially to a movement in the 1700s that glorified reason as the ultimate authority and basis for human thought and life. As an ideology, it was primarily a matter of the intelligensia of Europe, and its focal point as a movement was in France. The publication of the Encyclopédie in thirty-five volumes from 1751 to 1772 covered the gamut of knowledge from the standpoint of reason. Figures like Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-78) and Voltaire published related works (1694-1778).

As historians look back, we can see trends and beginnings that were in play in intellectual circles before the movement received its name. So it is with the Enlightenment. The French may date it to the period between the death of Louis XIV in 1715 and the French Revolution in 1789, but we retrospectively should include intellectuals in England and France even earlier in the 1600s. And the German Enlightenment must go at least to the death of Kant in 1804.

15. The Enlightenment did not only champion reason, but also experience. What it did not champion was religion or tradition as authorities. Perhaps we can go back to Rene Descartes (1596-1650), who questioned everything in a quest for certainty. His final conclusion was that he could not doubt that he was thinking, that he at least existed, "I think therefore I am."

So Descartes suggested, like Plato two thousand years earlier, that reason was the truly reliable path to truth. He would be followed by Spinoza in the Netherlands (1632-1677) and Gottfried Leibniz the German (1646-1716).

There was however another path just as much a part of the Enlightenment as the "rationalists." These were the empiricists, those who said our senses were the only reliable path to truth. John Locke was in England, along with George Berkeley in Ireland (1685-1753) and David Hume in Scotland (1711-76).

Others who should be mentioned are Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), who wrote the Leviathan in support of the divine right of kings. Then there was Rousseau, who wrote of the noble savage and of social contracts. Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations attempted to set economics on a purely rational basis. Meanwhile, the scientific revolution continued, as natural law was pursued as the explanation for the way the world works.

Of course the love affair with reason would come to an end soon enough. Tired of reason's reign, romanticism would take over around the turn of the century into the 1800s.

Major Take-Aways
  • Rhode Island was the model with a future, not Puritan Massachusetts. The ideal religious environment (and this fits well with Wesleyan theology) is one in which the law is based on basic morality and diverse religious groups can otherwise freely practice their religions.
  • Victors in wars should apparently not be too overbearing in making the defeated pay for wars. It often comes back to bite you in the behind.
  • Those who flex their muscles to show who is the boss, often later get kicked in the teeth.
  • Doubling down with force on the disobedient only increases resistance and opposition.
  • The early bird gets the worm. The man with the plan is the man with the power.