Saturday, March 31, 2007

Christian Apologetics Podcast Reviews

I listen to a variety of podcasts pertaining to Christian apologetics, so I thought I'd put together a few reviews. Perhaps the people running them may read this feedback and find it useful, who knows?

The Dividing Line: I listened to this web cast long before I even knew what a podcast was. Consequently, after a hiatus from listening to the Dividing Line, I was very glad to see that they now have a podcast. I really must congratulate James in the way his show has really prospered. It maintains a unique sense of consistency and it is really quite informative. I'd say it is probably one of the best Christian apologetics podcasts out there, at least out of what I've seen so far. James pulls no punches and has a great deal of passion about the subjects he covers, but he also maintains a very scholarly and level-headed composure on the show. He really demonstrates a willingness to work through issues and interact with people on a very mature and scholarly level. James focuses mainly on Textual Criticism, Islam, Mormonism, and issues pertaining to Reformed theology. He frequently debates people and interacts with their material. The material James presents can be long-winded, but not in the murky sense. It is always presented in a cogent and effective manner. The emphasis on Textual Criticism and high-level surveys of Reformed Theology may make this show slightly out of the "area of interest" in a person just looking for general apologetics info, but for the serious individual who is commited to study, it is great!

The Narrow Mind: This podcast is perhaps more general than The Dividing Line. While it is still focused on apologetics, it covers a broader range of issues, often getting into eschatology, etc. A good deal of the content tends to do with debating with atheists and talking about Reformed Theology. The show has a great deal of variety and is very lively. It can be very fascinating and it has a great deal of dedicated listeners. Gene if a Reformed Baptist pastor and follows the apologetical style of Greg Bahsen. Gene gets some real interesting characters (or "cases"?) on his show. Particularly interesting was the time he had Dan Corner on the show and another time when he had a very far-out "Black Supremisist" sort of person online. Despite the positives, I do have some complaints about The Narrow Mind. While I like this show in many ways and find it stimulating, some aspects of the show are disheartening. I think the way some guests are handled only serves to reinforce certain stereotypes as to what evangelical Christians are like. I find some of the rhetoric to be rather harsh and also the sarcasm/satire sometimes become a bit excessive. I appreciate Gene's stand for the truth and I also understand that satire/sarcasm have their proper place, but the show is sometimes conducted puts me in the position where I can't recommend it without qualification. I think things could be done in a more charitable fashion. Don't get me wrong, there really is much that is very good about this show and I don't want my criticism of it to detract from that.

Faith and Reason: This is a radio show in Idaho run by Matt Slick. It is also available as a podcast and is run in conjunction with CARM (Christian Apologetics Research Ministries). Matt does a fine job of covering a number of different subjects and discusing them rationally and in a way that is faithful to the Scriptures. Matt gets all sorts of different callers and there really is a great deal of interaction and variety in the shows. I think he earns the respect that his callers give him, even those who disagree with him. He also has a tremendous amount of zeal and thirst for new ideas, new input, and reaching out in new areas. Sometimes the show gets a bit tedious when Matt either continues very long on one subject (you could call it a 'rant') or sometimes bringing up an interesting subject but then getting sidetracked by something else, leaving his listeners hanging! And his jokes get a bit corny sometimes (and repeated ad nauseum). That being said, Matt does a find job of intellectually defending the faith and doing it in a very charitable and patient way. Much can be learned in listening to how Matt interacts with people. Matt is a great example of how to remain friendly and charitable while still standing strong for the truth. His show is high quality just like his website

All three of these radio shows have the following: frequent guests, interesting topics, and hosts who are theologically sound and knowledgable. They have their own strong points and weak points. Two of them I can recommend without qualification (Faith&Reason and The Dividing Line). One I can recommend with one fairly important qualification (The Narrow Mind). It is wonderful to think that such shows exist with hosts that are providing a solid basis for the Christian faith.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Thursday's Mini Codices

Here we go again:
  • For those who haven't found it yet, Dust and Ashes Publications has many fine used Christian books listed on E-bay at all times. Right now they have some great books listed from Bonar, D.L. Jones, etc. In fact, in the 13 hours this fine specimen by Martin Luther will be going to the highest bidder.
  • The Philosophers Guide To Easy Money cracks me up. Especially the part about "Teach philosophy at a medium size Christian of your students may become rich--after changing their major from philosophy to business--and end up hurling money at you out of deepest gratitude". Haha! That is a good one.
  • Librivox is continuing to unlease some of A.C. Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. Great stories! And they're being made available as (legally) FREE MP3 audiobooks!
  • Maybe reading isn't a lost art afterall, at least according to a Globe&Mail article

Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Obscurianus Trivianus

Can anyone get the following trivia right?

1. Who hasn't had an asteroid named after them?

A) Martin Luther (German Reformer)
B) Brian Wilson (Beach Boys)
C) Aristotle (Philosopher)
D) Albert Einstein (Physicist)
E) Mahatma Ghandi (Activist)

2. Who was shot at and killed in the 1970's?

A) John F. Kennedy (President)
B) John Lennon (Beatles)
C) Sam Cooke (Singer)
D) Hafizullah Amin (President of Afghanistan)
E) Huey Newton (Black Panther Activist

3. Who was not a University of Paris graduate?

A) Rene Descartes (Philosopher)
B) Erasmus (Humanist)
C) Jacques Monod (Scientist)
D) Bill Graham (Canadian Politician)
E) John Calvin (Swiss Reformer)

4. Who has not had open heart surgery?

A) John Wayne (Actor)
B) Mike Bossy (Former Hockey Star)
C) Arnold Schwarzenegger (Governor of California)
D) Grady Booch (Computer Scientist)
E) Spencer Dryden (Jefferson Airplane)


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Tuesday Mini Codices

Only two today... :)
  • Librivox is just teaming with new audiobooks, including Letters Concerning Toleration by John Locke, The Antichrist by Nietzsche
  • , The Sign of Four by A.C. Doyle, etc.
  • According to a Register article, Microsoft Windows Vista "suffers from a bug that causes many machines to stall while deleting, copying and moving files". This may have to do with the fact that they've loaded their new operating system with draconian "content protection". In Slashdot's commentary on this, they refer to security guru Bruce Schneier's article where he states that "trying to make digital files uncopyable is like trying to make water not wet".

Labels: ,

Saturday, March 17, 2007

On Reading

Douglas Groothuis has a good post on reading. I think he has some great advise. I don't agree with everything, though. I figured I'd provide some commentary on some of his points.

3. Mark up your books, underlining key ideas and jotting ideas in the margins. Keep an index in the front of the book of the most important ideas. If the book is especially profound, take detailed notes on it.

This is a good idea. Regarding keeping notes, I must state that most notes people take are very ineffective. First of all, they are normally far too volumnious. Secondly, they are usual illegible anyways. A mind map would serve the purpose much better in being more clear, more visual, and more succinct.

5. Reread important books. This is a mark of the literary person, as CS Lewis notes in An Experiment in Criticism. I have been rereading much of Francis Schaeffer recently, a man I first read nearly 30 years ago as a young Christian. It is well worth it.

Very true!

6. Never get rid of a book you have read. I have thousands of books, but lament that I let go some I read (and some I didn't).

I disagree with this one. I believe getting rid of some of your book is a good practice. Here are many reasons why I say this:
  1. It will make you evaluate which books you really liked and which ones you plan to re-read

  2. Rather than holding a copy of a book that you may never read, giving away some of your books will recirculate them

  3. You could give some books for free, helping out a friend

  4. You can trade them and receive another unread book in its place (ie. Title Trader

  5. The cycle of is good for helping to avoid being attached to books as objects. This helps you to realise that what is really important are the ideas, not the physical object. Collection-mongering, while not inherently wrong, is sometimes problematic when one collects for the sake of collecting :)

  6. If you are really taking notes (or mind maps) of the key points of a book, you should be able to give it away because you've condensed the important/crucial points

Now that I've said this, I think I might have scored some major points with any serious theologian-husband's wife. She now has some points to provide in favor of getting rid of that pile of books! :) But, alas, I'm not advocating indiscriminate elimination. I keep many books and probably have some that I should get rid of. However, I just disagree with Doug's idea that books should never be gotten rid of.

A good book collection not only grows, but also shrinks. Shrinking is not ridiculous, it is refinement. Use shrinking to enhance your collection, not decimiate it.

7. Read and reread old books. Don't be taken captive by fashion. Savor the classics.

Yes! Yes! I'd just add that a good way to get to the old classics is to read the citations in modern books and read those authors. Then also see who those authors cite, and read them.

8. Ask smart people what their favorite books are and why. Then read them.

Great point!

10. Always look up and learn unfamiliar words you find in your reading. From 1976-1994 or so, I filled a blank book of over a 100 pages with such words. Use such words in conversation, even if the person you are conversing with may not know them.

Good vocabulary builder! One suggestion, though, if you always interrupt your reading to do vocabulary, you might find yourself slowing down too much. I suggest reading through the chapter, underlining words and looking up them all later together. If you write them down in a book you are losing the context. If you underline them, you can later flip through the chapter or the entire book and see them in their original context.

12. When in doubt, buy a book.

A questionable ending to a good list! :) I haven't bought a book yet in 2007. Why must we buy a book? Do we not have 100's unread sitting on the shelf?

Douglas, thank you for providing a thought-provoking list as you so often do!

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Steve Hawkins On Creation

Cosmologist Stephen Hawking gave a talk about the creation of the universe. The article covering this event isn't very specific, it only contains a few brief quotes from the talk.

There are a few things I'd like to say about what Dr. Hawking is saying, but I don't have the energy or time right now. Instead of putting forward a rushed attempt, I figured I'd just bring this up and cover it in more detail later.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, March 12, 2007

Monday Mini Codices

Here is today's installment:
  • The new Daylight Saving Time is a pain. I wonder if the people that instituted this actually realized what ramifications this would have. Will the change fulfill its objective? Maybe not. In fact, there is the possibility that it will actually increase power usage. I've already used quite a few CPU cycles (read: more energy consumption) to support this change, and I don't manage thousands of computers. Oh, and Microsoft in typical fashion doesn't release a patch for their older OS (Windows 2000)

  • Kim R's blog says that OS Guinness will be on the White horse Inn. I'm looking forward to listening to that program!
  • Greg Bahnsen has a new book. Looks good! (HT: Ian)

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Wednesday Mini Codices

Here is today's installment:
  • Those with a vested interest in Web Security (pretty much all of us these days) and the technical know-how, may want to grab FireKeeper, a firefox extension which provides for Intrusion Detection and Prevention within Firefox.

  • The FAA is looking into ditching Microsoft software and using Google Applications on Linux hardware as an alternative to upgrading to Windows Vista. As the article suggests, Microsoft's new products such as Vista and IE 7 are taking a BIG hit in March so far. [HT: Slashdot]

  • Tipsters looks like an interesting site. There doesn't seem to be much of value on the site yet, but it is a good concept.

  • Apparently, Michael Jackson is a Muslim now.

  • James White has a good post about why textual criticism matters
  • for Christians
  • Visuwords is cool, try it out!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Saturday, March 03, 2007

10 Reasons To NOT Upgrade to Windows Vista

1. The US Department of Transportation has banned their employees from installing it on their in-house computer systems.

2. This, and this, and this.

3. New forms of Digital rights management is built into the OS (following the demands of the movie industry), potentially violating the rights of the user, cripple functionality, increase vurnability, and decrease reliability. You should read an analysis of this problem to find the problems with this.

4. It requires a minimum of 512 MB RAM and 800 MHZ CPU and has other very high requirements which will make it unusable on older computers and cause many laptops and low-end to midrange desktops to not be able to use some of the more advanced features (such as the Aero Glass interface

5. You can't legally share it with your friends (not that you could do this with any other edition of Windows). You are paying for something that you will have no real ownership over. And pay you will, at least a couple hundred dollars!!

6. Chance, you will have headache with your hardware and other things. According to this report at BBC, the following happened for one individual: it took about 1 day to get connected to the Internet, there was mysterious "unknown device" errors, there were problems installing Intellitype keyboard software, Windows Mobile Device Center refused to hook up Outlook to a PDA device, and the soundcard/webcam/itunes were write offs--they simply would not work.

7. Its written by a company that is know for its rather questionable behavior.

So, you probably should stick with Windows XP or 2000 or whatever you have. Or better yet, install Linux and enjoy its stability, liberating yourself from an expensive Operating System with draconion licensing term written by a company that doesn't play fair. You might find that Linux is easier to use than you'd think. There are some great distributions of Linux out there including Ubuntu and SuSE.