Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Why Ebola Probably Never Will Go Airborne

My curiosity has at least been temporarily satisfied.  A Nature article (from Scientific American) explains that right now Ebola enters the body through cracks in the skin, or fluid  around the eyes, nose, or mouth.  But it doesn't have the proteins needed to form attachments to respiratory cells.

Now I'm wondering if we're seeing an admission by most of the experts that there is an edge to evolution.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Are Experts Worried that Ebola Could Become Airborne?

From this New York Times article:

 Officials said medical experts in the government were genuinely worried about the possibility of a mutation that could turn the virus into a more contagious sickness that could threaten the United States.

I'm not sure what "a more contagious sickness" would mean, other than one that became airborne.  Can anyone think of an alternative meaning?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

If Ebola Goes Airborne...

...The more people who are infected with the current strain of Ebola, the more opportunities it has to mutate into a form that is infectious in the air.  This article estimates that 1.2 million people will die if that happens. I strongly suspect that the number of deaths will be far greater. Currently, there are over 4,200 cases of infections, and over 2,400 known deaths.

UPDATE:  And according to  this article, we could get to one million patients in 18 weeks or less, even if it doesn't go airborne.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Gentile Rejection of Jesus

There's a story in the New Testament about Jesus traveling to a region known as the Decapolis.
I never bothered to find out what "Decapolis" referred to until today.  It was a region just to the east of Israel where ten cities were established after the conquest of Alexander the Great.  They were mostly gentile cities, with Greek colonists.  As  Wikipedia tells us
The New Testament gospels of MatthewMark, and Luke mention that the Decapolis region was a location of the ministry ofJesus. The Decapolis was one of the few regions where Jesus travelled in which Gentiles (people who are not Jewish) were in the majority. Most of Jesus' ministry focused on teaching to Jews. Mark 5:1-10 emphasizes the Decapolis' Gentile character when Jesus encounters a herd of pigs, an animal forbidden by Kashrut, the Jewish dietary laws.

So here's the story in the Gospel of Mark: 
They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Ger′asenes.[o] And when he had come out of the boat, there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,who lived among the tombs; and no one could bind him any more, even with a chain;for he had often been bound with fetters and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the fetters he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out, and bruising himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped him; and crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus[p] asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” 10 And he begged him eagerly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside; 12 and they begged him, “Send us to the swine, let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them leave. And the unclean spirits came out, and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea.
14 The herdsmen fled, and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 And they came to Jesus, and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. 16 And those who had seen it told what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine. 17 And they began to beg Jesus[q] to depart from their neighborhood. 18 And as he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 But he refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decap′olis how much Jesus had done for him; and all men marveled.  (Mark 5:5-20, RSV)

So the author of the Gospel of Mark seems to make a not so subtle connection between the notorious non-Kosher pig and a place where demons prefer to live if they're exorcised from humans.  And given a choice between having someone who can get rid of demons or losing their means of making a living, the choice was obvious -- "We'll take the pigs." 
Interesting.  UPDATE:  Perhaps I should mention why I find this interesting.  We often hear that the New Testament is an anti-Semitic book, portraying Jews unfavorably, but Gentiles favorably.  Yet here we have a case where Gentiles, or at least those Gentiles who owned the pigs, aren't portrayed in a favorable light.  And given that a connection is made between pigs and demons, a not unfavorable light is cast on the Jews.  Again, interesting. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Let Us Never Forget 9/11...

On the 13th Anniversary of 9/11, let us never forget that the United States is one of many countries known to have used false flag terrorist attacks in the past.  We should ask ourselves if 9/11 was another false flag terrorist attack.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

C.S. Lewis on How the Messiah's Death Saves Us

C. S. Lewis offered his own theory on how Jesus' death saved us, which somone kindly copied here: Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Was the Messiah taking Responsibility for His Creation?

On October 23, 1983   suicide bombers killed 241 U.S. servicemen in Beirut, Lebanon.  There was controversy over why the buildings in which the soldiers were staying weren't better defended.  In December Ronald Reagan said that he took the blame and responsibility for any failures that took place in defending our servicemen, thus effectively ending any effort to assign blame to anyone else.  Even though Reagan probably had nothing to do with the negligence involved in properly defending our soldiers, his taking the responsibility gave the actual culprits a free pass.  As far as I know Reagan never suffered any of the consequences that would normally come from taking the blame for a tragedy of this magnitude.  He didn't resign.  He wasn't impeached and removed from office.  No criminal or civil litigation was ever brought against him.

But I'm not attempting political commentary.  Instead, I'd like to bring attention to the principal to which Reagan was appealing, and that we all accepted.  That principal is the idea that the person with the highest amount of authority has the most responsibility.  It is the same principal that people who don't believe in God use as part of their rationale:  If there is a God, then He is the one ultimately responsible for all the evil and wickedness, and the resultant pain and suffering, that take place in this world.  And perhaps there is something to that. 

I brought up the tragic story of the Beirut bombings because I am wondering if this principal can help us understand the meaning of Jesus' death. The story that followers of Jesus tell is this:  Jesus was the Son of God, who had been the agent that God used to create the universe.  If that story is true, and if our principal is correct, then Jesus was ultimately responsible, or at least co-responsible, for all the evil and wickedness that has taken place in this world.  If so, then should we understand Jesus' death as his admission that he was ultimately responsible for all the wrong that had happened in the world?  And was his death his way of suffering the consequences that should come from admitting that responsibility?   If that is the case, then just as the people under Reagan got a free pass, then are we also being given a free pass?  Is this Jesus' way of telling us, "I've got you covered."  By the way, the word "atonement" in the original Hebrew means "covering."  When followers of Jesus talk about being covered by his blood, is this what they mean?  If so, then this would seem to be very good news, indeed.  We get a free pass from God because his Son has taken the responsibility for all the things that we have done wrong. 

Of course, if the story is true, there is even better news than that.  For the followers of Jesus claim that death could not contain the him, and that he rose from the dead on the third day.  And they say that he promises to raise us from the dead and give us eternal life if we will have faith in him and try to obey his commandments.  And they say that his commandments are to love each other the way that he loved us.  If we hurt someone, to make it right.  And if we are hurt, to forgive.  And not to look out for our own welfare, but for the welfare of others.  And they say that just as he was quick to forgive all our past sins, he is quick to forgive all our present failings (of which there will be a multitude).  

So if Ronal Reagan got it right (for once?), maybe we now have insight to what Jesus accomplished long ago.  Worth thinking about.