TSA ISSUES SECRET WARNING, the new atheists, Can God lie?, Much More

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EXCLUSIVE: TSA ISSUES SECRET WARNING ON ‘CATASTROPHIC’ THREAT TO AVIATION

The Transportation Security Administration said it is unlikely to detect and unable to extinguish what an FBI report called “the greatest potential incendiary threat to aviation,” according to a classified document obtained by The Intercept. Yet despite that warning, sources said TSA is not adequately preparing to respond to the threat.

Thermite — a mixture of rust and aluminum powder — could be used against a commercial aircraft, TSA warned in a Dec. 2014 document, marked secret [PDF here]. “The ignition of a thermite-based incendiary device on an aircraft at altitude could result in catastrophic damage and the death of every person onboard,” the advisory said.

TSA said it is unlikely to spot an easy-to-assemble thermite-based incendiary device during security screening procedures, and the use of currently available extinguishers carried on aircrafts would create a violent reaction. The TSA warning is based on FBI testing done in 2011, and a subsequent report.

A thermite device, though difficult to ignite, would “produce toxic gasses, which can act as nerve poison, as well as a thick black smoke that will significantly inhibit any potential for in-flight safety officers to address the burn.”

TSA warned federal air marshals not to use customary methods of extinguishing fires — the water or halon fire extinguishers currently found on most aircraft — which would make the reaction worse, creating toxic fumes. Instead, air marshals are told to “recognize a thermite ignition” — but TSA has provided no training or guidance on how to do so, according to multiple sources familiar with the issue.

TSA circulated these Dec. 2014 materials through briefings, according to sources familiar with the issue, but did not offer up guidance on what to do with this information, and equipment that could mitigate this threat, like specific dry chemical extinguishers, has not been provided. According to the TSA advisory, federal air marshals and other on-flight officers should: recognize a thermite ignition, advise the captain immediately, ensure the individual who ignited the device is “rendered inoperable,” and move passengers away from the affected area.

Continue reading this HERE.

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What scares the new atheists

The vocal fervour of today’s missionary atheism conceals a panic that religion is not only refusing to decline – but in fact flourishing.

In 1929, the Thinker’s Library, a series established by the Rationalist Press Association to advance secular thinking and counter the influence of religion in Britain, published an English translation of the German biologist Ernst Haeckel’s 1899 book The Riddle of the Universe. Celebrated as “the German Darwin”, Haeckel was one of the most influential public intellectuals of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century; The Riddle of the Universe sold half a million copies in Germany alone, and was translated into dozens of other languages. Hostile to Jewish and Christian traditions, Haeckel devised his own “religion of science” called Monism, which incorporated an anthropology that divided the human species into a hierarchy of racial groups. Though he died in 1919, before the Nazi Party had been founded, his ideas, and widespread influence in Germany, unquestionably helped to create an intellectual climate in which policies of racial slavery and genocide were able to claim a basis in science.

The Thinker’s Library also featured works by Julian Huxley, grandson of TH Huxley, the Victorian biologist who was known as “Darwin’s bulldog” for his fierce defence of evolutionary theory. A proponent of “evolutionary humanism”, which he described as “religion without revelation”, Julian Huxley shared some of Haeckel’s views, including advocacy of eugenics. In 1931, Huxley wrote that there was “a certain amount of evidence that the negro is an earlier product of human evolution than the Mongolian or the European, and as such might be expected to have advanced less, both in body and mind”. Statements of this kind were then commonplace: there were many in the secular intelligentsia – including HG Wells, also a contributor to the Thinker’s Library – who looked forward to a time when “backward” peoples would be remade in a western mould or else vanish from the world.

But by the late 1930s, these views were becoming suspect: already in 1935, Huxley admitted that the concept of race was “hardly definable in scientific terms”. While he never renounced eugenics, little was heard from him on the subject after the second world war. The science that pronounced western people superior was bogus – but what shifted Huxley’s views wasn’t any scientific revelation: it was the rise of Nazism, which revealed what had been done under the aegis of Haeckel-style racism.

It has often been observed that Christianity follows changing moral fashions, all the while believing that it stands apart from the world. The same might be said, with more justice, of the prevalent version of atheism. If an earlier generation of unbelievers shared the racial prejudices of their time and elevated them to the status of scientific truths, evangelical atheists do the same with the liberal values to which western societies subscribe today – while looking with contempt upon “backward” cultures that have not abandoned religion. The racial theories promoted by atheists in the past have been consigned to the memory hole – and today’s most influential atheists would no more endorse racist biology than they would be seen following the guidance of an astrologer. But they have not renounced the conviction that human values must be based in science; now it is liberal values which receive that accolade. There are disputes, sometimes bitter, over how to define and interpret those values, but their supremacy is hardly ever questioned. For 21st century atheist missionaries, being liberal and scientific in outlook are one and the same.

It’s a reassuringly simple equation. In fact there are no reliable connections – whether in logic or history – between atheism, science and liberal values. When organised as a movement and backed by the power of the state, atheist ideologies have been an integral part of despotic regimes that also claimed to be based in science, such as the former Soviet Union. Many rival moralities and political systems – most of them, to date, illiberal – have attempted to assert a basis in science. All have been fraudulent and ephemeral. Yet the attempt continues in atheist movements today, which claim that liberal values can be scientifically validated and are therefore humanly universal.

Much more to read HERE.

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Can God lie?

Until the Scientific Revolution, God’s power included a licence to deceive. How did science make an honest man of Him?

Anyone who has ever read the Bible knows that God can speak. Over the course of six days, God speaks the world into existence and then speaks to both Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Later he speaks to Cain and Abel, to Noah, to Abraham and many others. What sorts of things does God say? He issues commands – ‘Let there be light!’ – he lays down prohibitions – ‘Don’t eat from that tree!’ – and he asks questions, metes out punishments, offers advice, forecasts the weather, and orders an old man to kill his only son. Sometimes he says these things calmly, sometimes sarcastically, occasionally his words are filled with anger or pity or love. When God speaks people listen, but when people listen, should they always believe him? In other words, can God lie?

For over a millennia, some of the most influential theologians and philosophers debated the problem of divine deceit. Imagine that God can lie, asks the early fifth-century bishop Augustine. Imagine that God has decided to include falsehoods throughout the Bible. How would we know what parts to believe and what parts to reject? With the best of intentions, we might unknowingly condemn ourselves to eternal damnation, accepting heresies as truths, rejecting truths as heresies. The dangers of a deceiving God extended far beyond the pages of scripture. The 14th century Oxford-trained theologian John Wyclif feared that if God could lie to us, he could give us false visions, reduce reality to mere appearance and undermine all our knowledge of the world.

‘Can God lie?’ proved an important question for more than 1,000 years because it compelled theologians to consider in the starkest terms the nature of God’s relationship to the world. It led directly to the matter of God’s nature and essence. These are important questions, but they also proved difficult to answer because the evidence seemed to contradict itself. There were two distinct approaches to understanding God’s involvement with the world and they suggested very different conceptions about God.

On the one hand, people could look to the narrative of scripture for clues. Scripture reveals a God who acts and reacts to events in the world, who destroys cities, makes covenants, and speaks to Moses in the guise of a burning bush. On the other hand, people could think about God in more philosophically inflected terms, using ideas borrowed from Plato and Aristotle and other Greek thinkers, although these borrowings always had to be adapted to the demands of scripture. Omnipotent and perfect, this philosophically conceived God existed at a distance, aloof from his creation, unchanging and immutable. A perfect being, after all, lacks for nothing and, lacking nothing, never needs to do anything.

More on this subject found HERE.

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